VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Thursday marks a big day in the Jewish faith, but the first day of Hanukkah is looking a little less social this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restrictions have forced people to change the way they celebrate in 2020 — with many festivities moving online.
Senior Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt of the Schara Tzedeck Synagogue in Vancouver says, typically, they’d be getting together.
“Nights with different members of the family, Hanukkah parties with friends. They would go to a community celebration, they would go to a carnival. In our synagogue, we often had a large event where we would pack hampers and all sorts of things. None of that’s going to be happening in that form,” he tells NEWS 1130.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver says about 30,000 people make up their community.
Currently, provincial orders prevent people from gathering or holding events due to the coronavirus. Measures were extended until into the new year in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
News of a COVID-19 vaccine has been bringing many people hope in recent days, and Rosenblatt says the timing is fitting with Hanukkah.
“The original Hanukkah story happened at a time which was bleak and seemed like it didn’t have hope. But the long story of the Jewish people is, be patient. We can make it through this. And that’s the lesson I’m hoping people take out of Hanukkah now,” he explains.
Rosenblatt says synagogues, including Schara Tzedeck, won’t reopen until restrictions are relaxed.
However, the orders aren’t going to let Rosenblatt and his community from spreading some cheer. He says there are plans to safely deliver food to families around Vancouver on Thursday.
“We’re pushing out maybe 1,000 different meals today to make sure that we connect with everybody on this holiday.”