CLEVELAND—Andy Isaacs and his family are lighting the first candle of their menorah to kickoff Hanukkah.

What You Need To Know

  • The Isaacs family has returned to in-person Hanukkah celebrations because of the COVID-19 vaccine

  • The couple found innovative ways to keep the traditions alive for their kids during the pandemic

  • The family will host a party to mark the end of the holiday with extended family

“Every night, we light another candle until we get to eight,” Isaacs said.

Isaacs’ wife Taryn is a nurse practitioner who fought the pandemic on the front lines. She said this year’s celebration is a bit more meaningful because they can return to in-person celebrations. 

“We’re able to celebrate together, and embrace each other, eat food together, because we now feel safe due to vaccines,” Taryn said. “Everything we’ve been able to do for our health, to protect ourself and others. So, it’s a little bit more richer this year.”

Taryn says it is her and her husband’s goal to keep the light of Hanukkah alive despite these challenging times. They do this by displaying a menorah in their front window.

“Putting it in front of the window is really a sign that we’re proud to be Jewish. We’re not afraid to be Jewish,” Taryn said while adjusting the location of the menorah.

The couple said they didn’t want the pandemic to stop their two kids from learning about the holiday’s traditions.

“The dreidel is a great way to teach our children about the traditions and the miracle of Hanukkah,” Andy said while watching his son play.

Taryn said she also teaches her kids about the history of the holiday through food. She served her family latkes and jelly doughnuts this year.

“We like to eat foods that are rich in oil because it commemorates the oil that burned for eight nights instead of one night. So, all of these yummy foods are a way to celebrate that,” Taryn said.

Andy and Taryn say they encourage their kids to participate in prayers with them. Every night, their daughter, Eva, lights her own menorah. 

“I made it when I was at Hebrew school,” Eva explained.

7-year-old Eva studies Judaism at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. It’s a place where she said she’s learning to cherish the religion like her parents. 

“Hebrew school is a really special place to me,” Eva added.

The first night of Hanukkah wouldn’t be complete without the presents. It’s something their 5-year-old son Ethan is especially excited for.

Ethan covered his closed eyes with his hands as he waited for his gifts to be delivered on the couch.

“Can we open it?” he asked.

The couple said they have a lot to be grateful for. They plan to continue to celebrate science, vaccinations, and time with extended family this Hanukkah. 

“Last year was really tough, so we’re happy to keep the lights alive and keep the traditions going by being in-person,” Isaacs said.