When I was in 1st grade, the one Jewish student in my class taught us about the celebration of Hanukkah. We played dreidel and learned the song “Dreidel dreidel dreidel, I made you out of clay…” He showed us a menorah and explained its significance. In ancient times, after the Jewish soldiers defeated the Greek army, the soldiers lead Judah Maccabee decided to have a feast. They looked everywhere for oil to light the menorah, but they found only enough ritually pure olive oil to light the menorah for one day. The story goes that the supply supposedly lasted eight days. Today Jews celebrate Hanukkah as a commemoration of the triumph of the soldiers. Every night for eight nights, Jewish people light candles in a menorah, thus commemorating the eight-day miracle.
While I certainly learned a lot about the Jewish religion and the celebration of Hanukkah, there was one thing that was significant in my appreciation for the Jewish faith. The potato latkes!
Now I didn’t go up with a specific religion being a major part of my life, but I have always been fascinated with the idea of religion. The idea that people came together to share their faith and beliefs is something I find to be truly incredible. I have attended various churches and places of worship over the years. I have attended multiple Catholic Masses (especially lately due to the number of weddings we attended), Presbyterian & Protestant services, and even a few Jewish Bat Mitzvahs. In college I would often go to the Sunday service at our non-denominational church on campus. The minister was one of my professors and an extremely well-spoken man. Plus, the church itself is to beautiful, you couldn’t help but feel inspired.
However, after all of my research and experience, I am convinced that if I had to choose a religion to align myself with, it would definitely be Judaism.
When I came home from first grade that day after we learned all about Hanukkah, I happily announced to my mom that I must be Jewish. I couldn’t get enough of the potato latkes, so I figured that this must be a religion that I could believed in. When you threw in the fact that you got to have a big party on your 13th birthday, my 6-year-old self was sold.
Today is the first day of Hanukkah. In the cafeteria of my school, the chefs served potato latkes. I had three :)