I grew up with a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. My parents agreed to raise my brothers and me Catholic but in my early twenties, my mom decided to attend a Jewish Synagogue service for the first time, and a couple years later, ended up going through the conversion process to become Jewish.
All of my childhood holiday memories were centered around the Christian holidays, which my husband and I continue celebrating together, but now that my parents are Jewish, we also partake in celebrating several of the Jewish holidays with them.
While I’m in no way an expert on the Jewish culture and traditions, I have learned quite a bit over the years.
This year, Hanukkah begins Sunday November 28 at sundown, so here’s a round-up of some local events, as well as traditional Hanukkah food and places that sell Hanukkah items so you can celebrate Hanukkah this year with your family. Even if you’re not Jewish—it might be fun to expose your family to another culture’s traditions.
Local Menorah Lightings:
Mesa’s Merry Main Street (Nov. 26-Jan. 2). NEW this year: 12ft. Mesa Menorah. The large menorah will have a light added nightly (Nov. 28 – Dec. 6). City Plaza, 20 E. Main St., Mesa. merrymainst.com
City-Wide Menorah Lighting at SanTan Village in Gilbert. (Nov. 28 at 6 p.m.)
Join us at SanTan Village for our 10th Annual City-Wide Menorah Lighting. Dignitaries and Honorable Guests will be in attendance at this remarkable community event! Menorah Lighting is held at the West End of Harkins Court. Featuring the great gelt drop! Thousands of chocolate gelt coins will come showering down! Enjoy donuts and latkes, music and entertainment!
Chanukah Celebration- Public Menorah Lighting Outlets at Anthem (Nov. 28)
Children’s Program, Donuts, live music! Join us at 4 PM at the Outlets at Anthem (near Children’s Place) 4250 W Anthem Way Phoenix, AZ 85086
Chanukah Celebration – Grand Menorah Lighting! (Nov.28 at 5:30 p.m.)
Join us for our inaugural Chanukah Celebration – Grand Menorah Lighting! Featuring Live Music, Balloon Artist, Hot Latkes & Doughnuts, Crafts & Activities for Kids, Lighting of Giant Menorah, Greetings from Mayor Kate Gallego. Free of charge. Open to the public Get a free gift! A Light-Up Menorah Necklace! At Hance Park 67 W. Culver St. – EAST SIDE
Traditional Hanukkah Foods:
Hanukkah is all about the celebration of light and the fact that oil miraculously burned for eight nights. As a result, many of the traditional Hanukkah foods revolve around oil.
The most common foods include potato pancakes, also known as latkes, and donuts.
Looking to try some latkes? Trader Joes makes some good frozen ones that can easily be heated in a pan or even baked in an oven. Safeway also sells some in the frozen food section. Traditionally, latkes are often served with applesauce or sour cream.
Here’s a fun and easy recipe from Trader Joes that you could try.
If you want to try latkes without making them at home, Chompies Restaurant is a great place to find traditional Jewish food, including latkes, and they even have a whole Hanukkah Menu.
Where to Find Hanukkah Merchandise:
Target has been known to have a decent selection of menorahs, cute Hanukkah wrapping paper and gift bags, Hanukkah apparel, toys, and books, both in stores and online. You can find their selection here.
Old Navy has a fun selection of Hanukkah matching family pajamas.
Bed Bath and Beyond sells an array of Hanukkah decorations including menorahs, home décor, and even some games and toys.
Looking to throw a Hanukkah party? Wal-Mart has lots of festive party supplies.