Families will celebrate Hanukkah differently this year due to COVID-19

Families are putting health and safety first this year and plan smaller Hanukkah celebrations due to COVID-19 restrictions.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Every Hanukkah the Tolk-Knutsen family takes a 15-hour flight to Israel. It's become tradition.

But as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations soar, and stay-at-home orders are issued once again, families all over will celebrate the Jewish holiday differently in 2020.

"Definitely going to miss seeing my family this year and celebrating with them, with all the cousins. I have a very large family in Israel," said Vanessa Knutsen.

Normally, there are public menorah gatherings. And each night of Hanukkah is often celebrated at different family member's houses, with large numbers of family and friends all coming together.

"With COVID this year, we've got to take it out from the streets, back into the homes in a way that everyone is celebrating personally and on a more intimate way with their families at home," said Rabbi Aryeh Pearlstein.

They're giving out menorah kits, so everyone can light the menorah from the safety of their own home. Rabbis recommend heading to Hanukkah.org for ideas on how you can celebrate. Rabbi Pearlstein says many events are happening virtually -- from baking classes, to games and even story time for kids.

And this family says they're finding even more to celebrate this Hanukkah, their health topping the list.

"I think it's more about looking at the bright spot in this tough time," said Prescott Tolk.

"It's been a celebration that's kept a lot of people throughout many years, throughout many difficulties, light and alive and gave them hope," said Rabbi Pearlstein.
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