By Ted AYALA
Christmas – such an ubiquitous holiday today – is so deeply ingrained into the popular consciousness that we forget that many others this season have their own holidays and religious traditions they follow. This week, Jewish friends and neighbors celebrated Hanukkah: the Jewish “festival of lights.” Lasting seven days, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC.
Glendale’s Temple Sinai held its annual Hanukah dinner at the temple. Open to the entire community, Temple Sinai’s dinner is a time for members of the congregation to embrace their traditions, their family ties, and the roots of their faith.
A tradition that has continued for over a decade, Temple Sinai’s dinner is a family effort, with congregants of all ages helping out in preparing the meal. According to Tamara Silver, co-chair of Temple Sinai’s annual Hanukkah dinner, everyone pitches in.
“The fathers prepare the latkes, … the children set up the room, … it is all a family effort,” Silver said. Looking over the hall packed with congregants enjoying their traditional meal, she happily mentioned that the dinner sells out each year.
Lining up the buffet table were all sorts of tasty foods: beef brisket, latkes (made from scratch with Temple Sinai’s own latke mix), salad, desserts, and more.
Rabbi Rick Schechter, Temple Sinai’s rabbi since 2005, expressed his joy at the success of this year’s event. He also pointed out the importance of the role Hanukkah has in the lives of Jewish children in helping them understand their faith and culture.
“It’s a perfect holiday for kids,” he explained. “Families are able to celebrate together and maintain a Jewish life.” He also thanked Glendale and the surrounding communities for the warm treatment they have given Temple Sinai for the past 80 years. “As a Jewish community, we feel so blessed to be welcomed and embraced like this. In this time of year … we’re able to celebrate what we have in common.”
Tina Lowenthal, a resident of La Crescenta since 2001, was in attendance along with her family. She had nothing but praise for Temple Sinai. “The minute we walked through that door we felt what a warm and welcoming community [Temple Sinai] is.” Noting her bouts of severe illness and surgery she had suffered over the years, she expressed her deep gratitude to the tightly knit family fabric of Temple Sinai.
“Everyone pitches in and helps,” she smiled.