Photograph: Hanukkah play in a Hebrew Kindergarten, Calgary, Alberta 1954
From the Collections of Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People
When I was asked to write this blog about Hanukkah for the SPRA blog, I was excited to see what local information I could find. Being new to the position of Archives Technician, this project gave me the opportunity to look at all the search tools available through the SPRA website.
Hanukkah or Chanukah means “dedication”. It is a Jewish observance that remembers the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom. Hanukkah is an eight-day wintertime “festival of lights” that is celebrated from the 25th day of the month of Kislev to the 2nd of Tevet in the Jewish calendar, which begins on December 12 and continues through December 20 this year. The menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum that holds nine flames, is lit nightly during the holiday. The ninth holder, called the shamash (helper or servant), is for a candle used to light the eight other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. Hanukkah observers sing special prayers and consume traditional foods that are fried in oil, representing the holy oil in the temple.
I quickly realized that there is a lack of historical documentation, articles, and information about the Jewish community in the South Peace area. Jewish communities were/are predominantly found in Edmonton and Calgary. In my research, the Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta (JAHSENA) holds the most public information recounting Jewish settlement in northern Alberta. If you, someone you know, or an organization you are involved in have photographs, documentation, or any information regarding the Jewish community in the past and present in the South Peace region, The Archives would be very interested in hearing from you.