Happy Hanukkah, Ohio!!

Tonight, at sundown, Jews around the world will celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah (or Chanukah, if you prefer), the 8-day Festival of Lights, which commemorates the 2nd century BC military victory of a small group of Jewish rebels over the Syrian/Greeks in power at the time.

The collections of the Ohio Historical Society are vast and varied.  Mixed into the Ohio-made quilts (like this one) and letters from future presidents (like this one) are other, different, but no less important gems related to all aspects of our state’s story.  In honor of this year’s Hanukkah celebration, here are a few holiday-related pieces from the collection.

Nathan Zelizer Celebrating Hanukkah

Rabbi Nathan Zelizer leading a celebration of Hanukkah for soldiers at Stark General Hospital in South Carolina while serving as a chaplain with the U. S. Army during World War II, 1944, from the Rabbi Nathan Zelizer collection, MSS 417 AV

Rabbi Nathan Zelizer was the rabbi for Tifereth Israel in Columbus,OH from 1931-1973. During WWII, he took a sabbatical from his congregational work to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. This photograph was taken during this time, at Hanukkah in 1944.  The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, congregational bulletins, newspaper clippings and religious objects related to Rabbi Zelizer’s rabbinical work.

Students Making Latkes for Chanukah

Jewish students who were members of the B'Nai B'Rith Hillel Foundation at Ohio State University making latke (potato pancakes) for Chanukah, 1957, from the B’Nai B’Rith Hillel Foundation Audiovisual Collection, P 252

The Ohio Jewish Chronicle

The front page of the Ohio Jewish Chronicle on December 5, 1985

The Ohio Jewish Chronicle collection in Ohio Memory contains the history of the Columbus Jewish community as recorded weekly in the pages of the paper from 1922-1994.  Typing “Hanukkah” or “Chanukah” into the search field of the collection in Ohio Memory returns over 1,000 individual page hits.

Not everything you can find in the collections of The Ohio Historical Society is digitized, of course. By visiting the research room in Columbus, you can see resources like this, as well:

The Hanukkah festival: outline of lessons for teachers / by Rabbi Louis Grossmann. [PA Box 178 10] 

This pamphlet was published in 1914 by the Teachers Institute of the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Cincinnati. Founded in Cincinnati in 1875, HUC is the oldest extant Jewish Seminary in the United States.


There is a popular saying during Hanukkah that goes, “We fought… we won… Let’s Eat!”  So, in that spirit, I’ll leave you with this potato latke recipe from actor Edward G. Robinson, re-printed from the American Jewish Press, on page 5 of this 1953 issue of the Ohio Jewish Chronicle.

 Jason Crabill, Curatorial Services Manager

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3 Responses to Happy Hanukkah, Ohio!!

  1. J. D. Mc Farland says:

    I’m guessing Rabbi Zelizer didn’t consider his congregation to be Columbus “OH”. Postal abbreviations never belong anywhere but on an envelope, and abbreviating Ohio is hardly necessary.

  2. miriam says:

    The recipe at the end of this article looks like it would make crepes, not latkes.

  3. Yehuda says:

    Hanukkah is really important, the Hanukkah symbols like Hanukkah menorah keeps us FEELING and not just remembering Hanukkah and the heroic stories of our people.

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