How Central Florida families are planning to safely celebrate Hanukkah during pandemic

ORLANDO, Fla. — Thursday night marks the first night of Hanukkah for Jewish families.

While the holiday is typically spent indoors lighting a menorah, many families will continue to keep their gatherings to a minimum.

READ: Florida man released from prison after serving 31 years for nonviolent marijuana crime

Central Florida families are preparing for the festival of lights while staying safe.

“This year we are not going to be able to get together as a family. We decided we are going to be outside,” Roberta Satill, of Longwood, said. “We are still going to have a gift exchange and we are going to see each other but we are going to be socially distant and we are meeting at a park.”

Some families give one gift for each night of Hanukkah, but Roberta and her husband, Brad, wanted to use the holiday as a teaching moment, especially this year.

READ: FDA to discuss emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

“Instead of doing eight nights of gifts, we are doing one night where we are going to do what’s called a ‘mitzvah’ which is a good deed,” she said. “We decided as a family we are going to support the community. We are going food shopping to our local food pantry.”

They also started collecting toys to donate for Toys for Tots.

“The essence of Hanukkah is being a light, it starts with ourselves, its starts in our homes and really we wanted to be able to spread the light and it is the essence of Hanukkah,” she said.

READ: House passes temporary funding bill to prevent government shutdown

This Sunday, the Jewish Pavilion and Chabad North Orlando are getting together at the Oakmonte Village in Lake Mary to put on a Hanukkah car parade for seniors.

Everyone is invited to decorate their car and drive through the parade, which begins at 12:30 p.m.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.