Hanukkah, the festival of lights, begins Thursday evening. The holiday, which marks the miracle of the oil and rededication of the temple in Jerusalem, holds many traditions. Eating foods cooked in oil, playing with dreidels, watching your uncle stress about his child handling fire for the first time as they light the menorah, that last one might just be me, and exchanging gifts.
Gift-giving during Hanukkah is a relatively recent addition to the holiday. Many families exchange one gift for each night and even follow a theme for each gift. While I can’t physically give any gifts to our city, this is what I would hope she gets:
Night 1: A Cincinnati Sports team championship victory. FC Cincinnati recently lost in a semi-finals heartbreaker to the Columbus Crew, adding them to the history of Cincinnati’s “Almost” teams. The Bengals almost won the Super Bowl in 2022, the Reds almost made the playoffs. I want the city to shrug off the curse of almost.
Night 2: The streetcar to expand its service beyond the OTR to the Banks loop to include its original proposed map in 2010 to include Clifton and Mt. Adams.
Night 3: Construction to end on I-75, or as my brother used to call it on our shared commute home, Satan’s Twisted Backbone. The highway has seemingly been in a never-ending cycle of construction and improvements for what feels like 20 years.
Night 4: The 3 C rail line has been a dream for years, and a recent Amtrak proposal shared by Sen. Sherrod Brown shows the route. A rail system that connects Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland would be amazing and a boon to the entire region. Imagine taking a train to Columbus for lunch or a show and returning the same day.
Night 5: For the rest of the world to realize the wonderful culinary beauty that is Cincinnati Style Chili.
Night 6: A Justice League movie to be filmed at Union Terminal because it is the inspiration for the Hall of Justice.
Night 7: A clear day for the 2024 Eclipse. The Cincinnati area is on the path of eclipse totality. That means the sun will be covered, and you can look up at the sun for a brief couple of minutes without protective eyewear. Totality is a moment of awe-inspiring cosmic beauty that is difficult to describe. Trust me, if you don’t see totality, you won’t fully experience the eclipse.
Night 8: For the thieves of the Romulus and Remus Statue at Eden Park to reveal themselves. A little over a year ago the famous Romulus and Remus Statue that was a gift to Cincinnati from the City of Rome in 1931 while Mussolini was in power was stolen from Eden Park. A new cast was made and sent to Cincinnati to replace the stolen one.
Bonus aka Shamash: For the Jewish world to codify one spelling of Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah. Let’s pick one and just go with that.
May all of the gifts you give or receive this year be the things you wanted and needed. I hope your holiday celebrations bring much-needed joy during these dark times. However you choose to celebrate, I hope you bring light into the darkness. From us here at Cincy Jewfolk, we wish you a Happy Hanukkah!