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What is Hanukkah?

The Jewish community is currently celebrating the 8 day long festival known as Hanukkah. This holiday celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century BC. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights for the miracle of light that occurred when the Temple was rededicated to the Hebrew god.


Activities that families partake in include lighting a candle on the menorah or playing the dreidel game. Families also frequently exchange gifts each evening of the 8-day long holiday. Traditional gifts might include coins, also known as “gelt,” but it is not too dissimilar to gift giving on Christmas. 


Hanukkah typically occurs in either later November or December, but specific dates change annually. Determining when Hanukkah will fall is based on the Hebrew calendar, not the Gregorian calendar that the Western world uses. This year Hanukkah begins on Sunday, December 18th at sundown, and will last until sundown on Monday, December 26th.


Quién lo celebra?

Latinos are primarily known for identifying as Christian and celebrating Christmas. However, there is also a population that identifies as Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah during the Holiday season. According to a study conducted by Pew Research in 2021, 4% of Jews within the United States are Latinos. 


Thousands across all of Spain and Latin America including Panama, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Argentina are celebrating Hanukkah. So those of you Jewish Latinos better be loud and proud!


Mixing Culturas

Identifying both the Jewish and Latino communities in one person can be tough as the two have distinctly identifiable culturas. But one clear commonality of both communities is in the bonding of preparing and eating traditional foods. 


Those of you with both cultures are truly not afraid to mix and match your backgrounds. Jewish Latinos are popping off with food trucks that serve delicious hybrid versions of classic meals from each community, showing the world pride in their raízes. 


Kosher Tacos

While non-Jewish people worry about seasoning and cooking meat for a dish, some Jewish people also worry about the slaughtering of the animals. Keeping Kosher is all about whether or not the animal chews it’s cud (partially digested food), has split hooves, and the preparation of the meat. 

Jewish Latinos have made more than one Kosher version for Hanukkah. 

Spicy Latkes

Latinos also aren’t afraid of giving dishes a spicy kick, so it’s really not surprising that Jewish Latinos double down on food centered traditions with the creation of “Spicy Latkes”. You can pop a bit of spice to your dish by adding jalapeño, hot peppers, or cajun seasoning to the accompanying sauce.


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Nicole-Antoinette Urbina-Ruiz
Nicole-Antoinette is Wafi Media's Editor in Chief and a senior at McDaniel College. She will be graduating this Spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science specializing in International Studies. She also works at the McDaniel College Writing Center as an Associate Peer Tutor. Outside of her work with Wafi and college life, Nicole-Antoinette is an avid singer, runner and outspoken advocate for the Latine and immigrant community. Nicole-Antoinette is passionate about issues relating to immigration, human rights, social justice, and latino culture. She hopes to attend and earn a JD at law school in order to serve the immigrant community through her practice of law.