Celebrating in New Orleans: Hanukkah Edition

If you have yet to witness the large menorah located at the foot of the Lavin-Bernick Center, you may be unaware that Hanukkah has begun.

For those unfamiliar with the Jewish religion, Hanukkah is an eight-day commemoration of the reclamation of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire over 21 centuries ago. The eight-day commemoration is celebrated with a nightly lighting of the menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum associated with Hanukkah.

Although Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration, it is similar to important holidays of any religion in that it is meant to be celebrated with friends and family. But because Hanukkah follows the lunar calendar, it begins and ends on a different date each year, which means it may be many college students’ first Hanukkah away from home. Celebrating away from friends and family can be intimidating, however, there are many opportunities to enjoy Hanukkah at Tulane and in the greater New Orleans area.

This year, Hanukkah begins on December 2nd and ends on December 10th. For eight days, experience Hanukkah in a different way as a member of the New Orleans community.

While New Orleans is predominantly Catholic, the city is also home to Touro Synagogue, the first Jewish congregation founded in the Gulf South.

At Tulane, a university with a large number of Jewish students, there are a multitude of ways to celebrate. Tulane Hillel hosted a Hanukkah kickoff on the first night and is celebrating the fourth night of Hanukkah with a cookie and menorah decorating contest. The event will take place on December 4 from 5:30-7 P.M. In addition, the enormous menorah located outside of the LBC is lit every night after dark.

The greater New Orleans area is celebrating Hanukkah with special menus, events, and parades. One of New Orleans’ most well-known restaurants, Saba, will be serving a special dinner menu during the holiday. Saba’s kitchen is run by award-winning Israeli chef Alon Shaya. For the eight nights of Hanukkah, his menu will include a house-made latke board, complete with Saba’s signature potato pancakes and wood-roasted apple butter, accompanied by a healthy portion of labneh with chives, whitefish salad, sumac-pickled red onion, soft boiled egg, and a fresh herb salad of watercress, dill, and parsley.

Marjie’s Grill is also celebrating Hanukkah with a new latke dish each night. The menu will feature a Korean Seafood Latke, a Sweet Potato Latke, and six other unique creations. Dinner will begin at 5 P.M. each night, followed by a Menorah candle lighting at sundown.

In addition, the Gulf South’s oldest synagogue, Touro Synagogue, is hosting services each day, followed by a special Hanukkah dinner and bingo tournament on December 7, beginning at 7:00 P.M.

In traditional New Orleans fashion, there will be a parade to conclude the final night of Hanukkah. The Mobile Menorah Parade begins at 7:30 P.M. as over a dozen cars topped with menorahs take to the streets. The cars will begin on Freret Street and continue toward the French Quarter before working their way back to St. Charles and Uptown New Orleans. Make sure to catch custom designed Hanukkah beads!

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, may your holiday be a “latke fun.” And remember, no candles in the dorm!

COVER PHOTO: The Stranger

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