The eight day long Jewish festival of Hanukkah recently passed. At Ridgewood High School, we do not get days off for this holiday.
Every year, Hanukkah begins at a different time because its dates are not based on the commonly used Gregorian calendar, but the Jewish one. It’s beginning can range from around Thanksgiving to Christmas. This means having one or more days off for Hanukkah could extend Thanksgiving Recess or December Break. At Ridgewood High School, the only Jewish holidays that have school off are Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first day of Passover.
RHS High Times interviewed a few Ridgewood High School students on their perspective of the holiday. When asked whether we should have days off, Ellie Sklar responded, “Yeah, I think so, we have Christmas off…[but] not all 8 days.” She suggested that we should have the first day of Hanukkah off.
An anonymous student said that “we should get days off because people should be able to celebrate their religious holidays and spend time with their family.” She suggested having all eight days off because “one day is not less important than another day…the eight days have their own…importance to celebrate Hanukkah and so people should be getting the full eight days off.”
Ridgewood celebrates Hanukkah through an annual menorah lighting. According to the website Tap Into Ridgewood, for the last nine years, Jews and others have gathered around 5:30 p.m. to witness the lighting of the menorah in Van Neste Square Memorial Park on the first day of Hanukkah.
This year, about a hundred people gathered at sundown on November 28th. Goodie bags were passed out before the celebration began. Then, after singing the prayers for the first night of Hanukkah, the first candle of electric menorah lit up. People then sang many Hanukkah songs, followed by speeches by those responsible for this celebration. This event was hosted by the Jewish Community of Ridgewood, Temple Israel and Jewish Community Center, and Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.
Ellie Sklar explains the start of this tradition was when “ten years ago my mom and a group of Jewish ladies wanted Hanukkah to be seen…[because] Jewish holidays should be celebrated.”
While Ridgewood celebrates Hanukkah, some high school students would like steps to be made for at least one day off for the Jewish holiday.
Graphic: Sarah Jeong