How to Celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights in Champaign-Urbana
Call it Chanukah or Hanukkah or Hanukah; whatever the translation, the festival of lights is perhaps one of the most well known Jewish holidays in the United States — if not the world.
The Champaign-Urbana Jewish community will join Jews from around the world in celebrating. We’ve put together this article to include everything you need to know about how to observe Chanukah in Champaign-Urbana.
WHEN IS CHANUKAH?
In 2023 the eight-day festival of Chanukah starts the night of Thursday, Dec. 7, and continues until sundown Dec. 15; the last candle is lit in the evening of Dec. 14. Chanukah lasts for eight days and nights, however, it’s the candle lighting that is perhaps the most important part of the holiday, and that occurs at night. Just to repeat — the first night is on a Thursday, even if your calendar says that the holiday starts on Friday. All Jewish holidays start the night before what might be labeled on a secular calendar as the first day of the holiday. (Did that make sense?)
WHAT IS CHANUKAH?
Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday that celebrates a historical military victory over intolerance. It has plenty of customs and rituals, including the lighting of a nine-branch candelabra (Hanukkiah, commonly known as a menorah). There are traditional fried foods, games, and decorations. (If you want to learn more about Chanukah, check out our popular “What You Need to Know About Chanukah” article.)
WHERE CAN I BUY CHANUKAH STUFF?
If you are looking to buy Chanukah-related merchandise for your family or for a friend, here are some suggestions for how to do so in Champaign-Urbana. If you’ve found Chanukah stuff elsewhere, let us know (email@example.com).
1. Shop at the Sinai Temple Gift Shop Chanukah Showcase. This is without a doubt the BEST place in Champaign-Urbana to find merchandise related to Chanukah – candles, menorahs, dreidels (spinning tops), gelt (chocolate coins) and so much more — books, crafts, gifts, decorations, etc. See hours on our events calendar. Sinai Temple is located near the corner of Windsor and Duncan Roads in southwest Champaign.
2. Champaign-Urbana area local businesses that typically have Chanukah merchandise include International Galleries at Urbana’s Lincoln Square Mall (menorahs, candles, gift wrap), Art Mart (books for kids and gelt), the Literary bookstore (books and cards), and Curtis Orchard. We saw some funny cards at Yellow and Company in Mahomet.
3. Big box stores. Chanukah stuff will pop up everywhere, you never know. In 2023 we have confirmed that there is Hanukkah chazerai (ha-zer-ay, a Yiddish word for JUNK) at the Champaign Target and the Urbana Meijer (see below). There’s even a bunch of Chanukah decor at Aldi! In the past, we’ve also seen modest Chanukah displays at Bath & Body Works, Party City, Walgreens, Schnucks and Harvest Market.
WHAT ABOUT LOCAL CHANUKAH EVENTS?
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