How We Celebrated Chanukah

HenyaChaiet-100December 2012



By Henya Chaiet

Yiddisheh kinder hert zich tzoo un mir vellen redden vegen Chanukah. Oy Chanukah; Chanukah ah yom tov ah shayner. (Yiddish friends listen up and we will talk about the holiday of Chanukah.)

Ven ich hob geven ah klayneh kinde flegen mine mutters mishpaucheh cumen tzoo zamen bye dee bubbeh un zaydehfar Chanukah. (When I was a child my mother’s family came together for a Chanukah get together at my grandparent’s.)

Mir flegen aun tzinden dee licht un zingen shaneh lidehlach. (We would light the candles and sing lovely Chanukah songs.)

Der nauch iz geven ah Chanukah sudeh. (After the lighting of the candles came a wonderful feast.)

Gehbroteneh ganz dee bubbeh haut gehmacht schmaltz fun der ganz un gehmacht dee latkes mit dee schmaltz. (Roasted goose with latkes that grandma fried in the goose fat that she rendered.)

Dos haut gehat zayer ah gooten tamun haut farshmekt dee ganseh hoyz. (These latkes had a special taste and the odors permeated the entire house.)

Nauchen sudeh haut mehn geh shplit in dreidel un geh gessen nislach. (After dinner we played dreidel and ate assorted nuts that we had to shell.)

Unzereh elteren flegen shpilen corten. (Our parents played cards.)

Ahzeh hoben mir farbracht mit unzer mishpaucheh. (This is the way our family celebrated Chanukah.)

Tzoom letzden haut der zaydeh gehgeben alleh kinder ah zilber dauler. (At the very end of the evening we would all line up and grandpa gave each of us a silver dollar.)

Dee tantes hoben unz gehgeben tzen cent. (All the aunties each gave us a dime.)

Mir hoben zich zayer gehfrayt mit undzer Chanukah gelt. (We were very happy with our Chanukah gelt.)

Haynt iz ah andersheh velt ich vunder tzoo zich ahlayn, velen mineh kinder un kindz kinder hauben dee shaneh gehdanken en zayer eltereh yorn vee ich haub?(The world is so different today sometimes I wonder and think to myself, will my children and grandchildren have the wonderful memories of Chanukah that I do now that I am old?)

Haut ah fraylachen Chanukah un esst dee hayseh zoodekeh latkes mit ayer mishpaucheh. (I hope all of you will enjoy some piping hot latkes together with your families.)

Henya Chaiet is the Yiddish name for Mrs. A. Helen Feinn. Born in 1924 ten days before Passover, her parents had come to America one year prior. They spoke only Yiddish at home so that is all she spoke until age five when she started kindergarten. She then learned English, but has always loved Yiddish and speaks it whenever possible. Chaiet lived in La Porte and Michigan City, Ind., from 1952 to 1978 and currently resides in Walnut Creek, Calif. Email:

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