Food is a central part of many Jewish holidays. And the third night of Hanukkah at Cheryl and Les Gordon’s south Forsyth home was no exception.
In addition to traditional Hanukkah foods like potato pancakes called latkes, Cheryl Gordon served up a spread of stew, vegetables and a family favorite, baked kosher salami.
"It’s a tradition for our family only because my wife started doing this years ago and the kids loved it," Les Gordon said.
The third night of Hanukkah was family night at the Gordon household. In addition to decorations, presents and food, their home was filled with their three children, Julie Witten, Kara and Seth — and their families.
Among them were three granddaughters, who spent the evening laughing and bouncing with excitement to celebrate the holiday, dubbed the festival of lights.
Hanukkah celebrates a miracle, which the faith teaches followed the destruction of the holy temple more than 2,000 years ago.
While rebuilding the temple, Jews rounded up enough olive oil to provide light for one day. But the oil miraculously lasted for eight, enabling the reconstruction and rededication of the temple.
In remembrance, Jewish families light a special candleholder, called a chanukiah, or menorah, and recite a prayer.
Beginning with one candle on the first night, an additional candle is lit daily until the last night — this year, on Dec. 27 — when all eight candles glow in remembrance.
A ninth candle, called the Shamash, acts as a guard over the other candles and is used to light the other eight.
"She knows you can’t have gifts until you light candles," said Witten of her 3-year-old daughter Sadie.
On the third night of Hanukkah, Forsyth residents Eddie and Michelle Ray were long gone, celebrating in south Florida with both of their families.
"One night we’ll have with my family and the other night my husband’s family … they’re both very big," Michelle Ray said.
"Family comes first in my mind and being with them during the holidays — well, it wouldn’t really be the holidays without them."
But on the second night, the Rays and their three sons, Adam, Matthew and Jerod — ages 6, 12 and 15 — celebrated with their neighbors, who are Christians.
"It’s a holiday to be celebrated with family and friends, and they’re good friends of ours … it’s fun to share the holiday," she said.
Back at the Gordons, Julie Witten noted how they are carrying on the traditions with their children.
The concept of l’dor v’dor, translated to mean from generation to generation, is important in the Jewish faith, Cheryl Gordon said.
"It’s not a major holiday for us … but it’s a tradition. And if we don’t continue those traditions, they will die," she said.