Hanukkah celebrations become the latest to go virtual in Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s Jewish community is getting ready for another round of virtual celebrations.

Hanukkah kicks off Thursday, but like so many other holidays in 2020, large gatherings will be virtual.

Gray Academy of Jewish Education cancelled its in-person celebrations at the school which typically draws hundreds of parents. Instead, families are invited to join an online celebration for the first night of candle lighting.

Kindergarten teacher Lainie Filkow said the coronavirus pandemic will be a theme for the eight-day celebration.

“We’re having our students from JK to Grade 7 dedicate a candle each day for the eight days of Hanukkah to people in our community who are being impacted by COVID,” Filkow said. “So community workers, people who own local businesses, our educators.”

Read more: Hanukkah celebrations during COVID-19 pandemic

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For Gabi Winestock, Hanukkah is her favourite time of year.

She typically hosts her family and wants to keep the spirit up this year by hosting a virtual meal and game night.

“Honestly we have all of the feelings at my house right now,” Winestock said.

“We’re so happy to still be together, even through the computer screen, but we’re so disappointed, Hanukkah is so much fun.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Jewish leaders outraged Hanukkah gatherings banned, Christmas ones OK

For anyone else looking to get creative, Rabbi Matthew Leibl of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, suggested putting together Hanukkah gift bags and dropping them off to loved ones.

Although it might different, Leibl said it’s important to remember the true meaning an Hanukkah.

“It’s always been the message of a festival of light, a festival of hope, believing in miracles, not giving up,” Leibl said. “This year it resonates even stronger.”

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