Hanukkah: The Disconnection

December 14, 2023
Sarah Begun

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States

Class of 2026

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Hanukkah: A time of celebration. It is a time when we join together as the Jewish people and celebrate our traditions, feeling the pride and joy of the holiday. We eat food, we spend time with loved ones, and we celebrate, connecting ourselves to not only our community but our roots. However, in lieu of it all, I feel like an observer, disconnected from the holiday and disconnected from my identity as a Jew.

In the current state of the world, where antisemitism is at an all-time high, we’re looked at to be rising up against the hate and supporting our homeland. Ushering in pride, tradition, unity, etc., to the table to bring not only a physical connection but a religious one. Despite doing my best to sustain and grow my Jewish identity, I feel lost. This holiday, which I have spent 15 years celebrating and remembering as joyful and exciting, has now left me with a feeling of disconnection and guilt. 

I am Jewish. I am in BBYO, occasionally go to Shabbat services, and I had a Bat Mitzvah. But right now, while I may be Jewish, I don’t feel Jewish. I feel lost because when I’m lighting the Shamash candle, the prayer that I’m reciting doesn’t roll off my tongue like it used to. I feel lost because of the holiday that I used to love, I now dread celebrating. I feel lost, because ever since October 7, the connection I’ve had to Judaism has also joined with a sense of fear and guilt for feeling the way that I do. 

This Hanukkah, I have lit the candles every night, and I have recited the prayers. But I haven’t felt the joy or cheer. I want to regain that feeling of knowing where I fit in as a Jewish person, of knowing who I am as a Jewish person, and feeling that joy and connection that once defined this holiday for me. As I continue on, I hope to feel that connection again, rekindling my relationship with the rituals and traditions that this holiday brings. As of now, I know that I will do everything I can to be able to say that I love who I am, I love where I am, and I love to celebrate this and all of the other Jewish holidays.

Sarah Begun is a BBG living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey who plays bass guitar, and lacrosse.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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