This blog post was written by Jacob Goldman, a member of the Tivnu 8 cohort from Mountain View, CA, in the Bay Area. He enjoys chess, good vegan food, and exploring the outdoors. Jacob is a palindrome expert and pun enthusiast. He interns at Nadaka Park, Outgrowing Hunger, and Tivnu construction.
We started off the eight days of Hanukkah by lighting candles together, singing prayers and songs, and dancing in the kitchen. This first night of Hanukkah was especially meaningful as it coincided with the return of my fellow Tivnuniks from Thanksgiving break – this was our first group interaction after a week-long hiatus.
We began the night with lighting two menorahs differently: one in the Beit Hillel tradition (which is what most Jews follow) and the other following the Beit Shammai custom (Shammai was on the losing end of lots of ancient rabbinic debates). That means we lit one Hanukkiah with one candle, as the candle count would ascend throughout Hanukkah, and the other Hanukkiah with eight candles, as the candle count would descend as Hanukkah continued.
Sam and his guitar led us in singing lots of traditional prayers and songs, and then we progressed into jamming to Debbie Friedman’s Hanukkah hits. Grace made delicious latkes for everyone, which we snacked on throughout the night’s celebrations. Eventually our singing transitioned to dancing and evolved into a big dance party in the kitchen.
As the candles burned we waited for the rest of our cohort-mates to return home from their Thanksgiving vacations. It was fun to start Hanukkah off this way, with both the Jewish tradition of candle lighting and prayers, and also fun singing and dancing together.
We celebrated Hanukkah all together again on Saturday night, where we had a lively and musical Havdalah service, lit candles on Adinah’s famous octopus Hanukkiah, ate lots of potato-based foods, and played an elaborate game of dreidel. Once again our singing evolved into a large dance party in the kitchen!
Afterwards, we relaxed over some Hanukkah potato staples: curly fries, tater tots (or, T8-er tots), and of course a side of gelt and root beer floats. Intense games of dreidel in the living room and passionate games of foosball in the basement filled the house with lots of activity and laughter. Overall, the Hanukkah party was great for celebrating the holiday and also to have a good time with peers.
On Sunday we wrapped up our Hanukkah celebrations with a hilarious gift exchange, dubbed “Hanukkah Harry.” People had a secret person they would give a gift to and then would open their gift and try to guess who gave them their gift. There were various types of gifts, and Lance’s was most notable with a stuffed Santa, hanukkah shirt, and scuba gear. It was fun to see all the gifts that people gave and received and was a really sweet event with people being kind to each other.
Overall, Hanukkah at Tivnu had various celebrations which were fun and meaningful in their own ways, touching on many important aspects of the holiday such as food (including gelt, latkes, tater tots, and more), candle lighting, communal bonding, and fun activities.