Chanukah Guide to Champaign-Urbana

How to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights in Champaign-Urbana

Call it Hanukkah or Hanukkah or Hanukkah; Regardless of the translation, the Festival of Lights is perhaps one of the most well-known Jewish holidays in the United States – if not the world.

The Champaign-Urbana Jewish community will join Jews around the world in celebrating. We’ve put this article together to include everything you need to know about how to keep Chanukah in Champaign-Urbana.


This year, the eight-day Hanukkah festival begins on the night of Sunday, November 28 (no, that’s not a typo) and continues until sunset on December 6; the last candle is lit on the evening of December 5. Chanukah lasts eight days and eight nights, however, it is the lighting of the candles that is perhaps the most important part of the holiday, and occurs at night. I repeat, the first night is a Sunday, even though your calendar says vacation starts on Monday. All Jewish holidays begin the day before what could be labeled on a secular calendar as the first day of the holiday. (Did that make sense?)

WHAT IS Chanukah?

Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday that celebrates a historic military victory over intolerance. It has many customs and rituals, including the lighting of a nine-branched candelabra (Hanukkiah, commonly known as a menorah). There are traditional fried foods, games and decorations. (If you want to learn more about Chanukah, check out our popular “What You Need to Know About Chanukah” article.)


If you are looking to buy Hanukkah related merchandise for your family or a friend, here are some suggestions for doing it in Champaign-Urbana. If you’ve found Hanukkah stuff elsewhere, let us know ([email protected]).

1. Shop in the Hanukkah display case in the Sinai Temple gift shop. This is without a doubt the BEST place in Champaign-Urbana to find Hanukkah related merchandise – candles, menorahs, dreidels (spinning tops), gelt (chocolate coins) and much more – books, crafts, gifts, decorations, etc. . See times on our events calendar. The Sinai Temple is located near the corner of Windsor and Duncan Roads in southwest Champaign.

2. Local businesses in the Champaign-Urbana area that typically carry Hanukkah merchandise include Urbana’s Lincoln Square Mall International Galleries (menorahs, candles, gift wrap), Art Mart (children’s books and gelt), even Curtis Orchard.

3. Big box stores. Since the holidays are so early this year, we suspect that many big box stores will be a little late. Sometimes Target has a lot of Hanukkah chazerai (ha-zer-ay, a Yiddish word for JUNK). In the past, we’ve also seen modest Hanukkah displays at Party City, Walgreens, Meijer, and Schnucks Harvest Market in Champaign with adorable Hanukkah trinkets.

target hanukkah champagne


Illini Chabad and the Sinai Temple sponsor Hanukkah events for families.

We will add events to our calendar as we learn about them.

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