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Hanukkah takes on different tone as Jewish community reflects on Israel-Hamas war

Hanukkah takes on different tone as Jewish community reflects on war
Hanukkah takes on different tone as Jewish community reflects on war 02:55

NEW YORK -- The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins Thursday night.

It comes during a time of darkness, as the Israel-Hamas war continues.

CBS New York's Lisa Rozner shows how one family is drawing upon the festival of lights for hope and strength this holiday.

Hanukkah feeling different this year amid Israel-Hamas war 04:01

Melanie Shurka recites Hanukkah prayers over a menorah from Iran -- her grandparents left the country in 1950 for Israel.

"My father was born in a tent in Israel. They really left everything," Shurka said. "They sort of struggled as Iranian Jews, but they really wanted to be living in Israel and being part of it."

Decades later, Shurka is reminded of those struggles witnessing the war. 

"It's hard to focus on anything else right now. So just having a moment to think -- this is eight days about miracle -- and I really hope that things are going to change in the world," she said. 

Jewish community set to mark Hanukkah amid difficult time 03:24

Shurka is the chef-owner at Kubeh, on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village. She and her brother grew up eating kubeh, a type of dumpling. Now, they make it fried and even incorporate it into soup, as part of their family traditions for Hanukkah, along with sufganiyot fried doughnuts with Nutella or raspberry filling and potato latkes with lots of herbs to give it a Persian-Israeli kick.

"This is a holiday of eating oily foods to remember that the small amount of oil we had lasted a whole eight days," said Shurka. 

Jews of all backgrounds have different twists. Breads Bakery is debuting a tiramisu flavored doughnut this year. Balaboosta restaurant created a sfinge, a Moroccan fried doughnut. Zou Zou's has a crispy latke inspired by Jordanian and Lebanese roots, topped with duck fat-fried shallots. Mexican influenced Toloache created a matzo ball soup with jalapeno chicken. 

Hanukkah in the Kitchen: Frying up the perfect latkes 04:14
Hanukkah in the Kitchen: Cooking all the classics 05:03

Hanukkah is considered a miracle, because the oil was only supposed to last for one day inside the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In the Second Century B.C.E., it was under siege by the Greeks, and Judaism was outlawed.

While food is a big part of Hanukkah, it also incorporates playing games and spending quality time with loved ones. 

"It is when we give all the young ones in our family Hanukkah presents. I'm no longer the young one," Chelsea resident Matthew Shurka told Rozner.   

Families spin the dreidel, with different Hebrew letters determining how much chocolate Hanukkah gelt each gets. For more family fun, Manischewitz created ugly sweater cookie decorating kits.   

Bittersweet moments to be grateful, hoping the eight days of lights help dispel the darkness.

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