Peoria’s Jewish families celebrate Channukah virtually this year

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Channukah holiday began Dec. 10. Just like most other things this year, Channukah looks a bit different due to COVID-19. The Jewish Federation of Peoria has found ways to still bring the Jewish community together this holiday season. 

On Dec. 12, they hosted a virtual “Channukah Happening” Zoom party, which started with Havdallah, followed by lighting menorahs, and finally music and Channukah cocktails. 

Each night, the federation hosts a virtual menorah lighting for all eight nights of Hanukkah. 

The holiday of Channukah celebrates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greek army over 2,000 years ago. The eight days symbolize the legend of the olive oil that should have lasted one night but lasted eight. 

Many families are celebrating the holiday in a different fashion this year. 

The Shaffer family said that Zoom has been their saving grace this holiday season. In fact, they have had the opportunity, through the Jewish Federation of Peoria, to expand their circle. 

“Actually this year, as opposed to other years, we’ve been able to participate in more of a national and global Jewish community this Channukah,” Steven Shaffer said.  

Shaffer said they had the opportunity to virtually meet Jews in Israel. 

The Evans family had another first this year; they introduced their new baby Ari to his first Channukah. 

Jenny Evans made traditional holiday Jewish food, which she will give out to some friends and neighbors since big gatherings are unsafe at this time. 

“The desserts are called sufganiyot, which are basically a jelly donut, and the potato dish is latkes,” Evans said. “Both are made with plenty of oil, which is significant for Hanukkah because it symbolizes the Hanukkah miracle (the oil lasting 8 days).”

Channukah will end Dec. 18. 

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