Illuminating History: Hanukkah in the AJHS Archives

December 7, 2023
by Tamar Zeffren

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (also known by a host of other spellings) usually falls out in late November to late December and lasts for 8 days. The most common custom associated with this festival, sometime referred to as the Festival of Lights, is lighting a nine-branched menorah; on each of the 8 nights, an additional candle is lit until all eight candles are lit together on the final night. Other customs include singing Hanukkah songs, playing games with dreidels (a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side) and eating oil-based foods, such as latkes, donuts with different fillings called sufganiyot.

Here are some enlightening appearances of this holiday in AJHS’s holdings. Happy Hanukkah!

Rome Bureau—Hanukkah, 1986. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society Records (Collection I-363).
Operation Chanukkah for Korean children, 1955. National Jewish Welfare Board, Records (Collection I-337).
Boy lighting Hanukkah candles on menorah, Kochi, India, approximately 1980s. United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York Records (Collection I-433).
Soldiers celebrating Hanukah at Little White House, Camp Gordon, GA, circa 1917. National Jewish Welfare Board, Records (Collection I-337)