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Despite great distances, Utah family gathers for Hanukkah

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Dec 9th, 2012 @ 10:20pm


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SALT LAKE CIT — Even though some Jewish family members are celebrating events they call miracles that happened thousands of years ago, Sunday, they combined the ancient with modern technology to gather their loved ones for Hanukkah.

Elliot and Debra Winkler gathered their seven children and their families using SKYPE: Nathaniel and Michael in Texas, Layah and Sam in New York by phone, Josh and Marnina here and Shira in Japan, who showed off her baby bump.

"This is the way, what we just did, a way we can all be together for a few minutes and it's great," said Debra Winkler

Like so many families, jobs and military service separate them from loves ones back at home.

This Hanukkah, Festival of Lights, commemorates a battle the Jewish people, led by Judah Maccabee, won 2100 years ago recapturing their temple and witnessing the miracle of the holy oil that lasted for eight days.

A favorite food is the potato latke cooked in oil. In this house, it's a bit of a competition, with several toppings like sour cream or apple sauce.

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Grandsons Ari and Avi tried to explain the rather complicated game played with a dreidel. The Hebrew letters on them are an acronym for "a great miracle happened here."

But the most important part is the light — the candles of many colors that Debra taught her children represent the people of many nations.

For these eight days, they will offer gifts and share a little of that light with friends of all faiths.

"No matter what color we are, no matter how we celebrate our lives, no matter who we are, it's our job to make sure that we remember the importance of god in our lives," Winkler said.

Elsewhere in Utah

Also on this second night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Benny Zippel, leader of the Jewish congregation Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, sponsored a celebration that ended with the lighting of the largest Menorah in the state at the Gallivan Center.

Hundreds gathered for ice skating and a traditional meal commemorating the holiday that.

"The symbolism behind it is we're always looking to add a little bit more light into the world," Zippel said. "You know, the world sometimes seems a little bit crazy and we're always looking to add on more act of goodness and kindness and it's that one more ounce of light to make the world a better place."

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Carole Mikita

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