Parties were a tradition for the Sidmans.
Then the Waldo Canyon fire rolled in.
They were homeless, but lucky. Their smoke-damaged home still stood. All around them were the empty spaces where homes once were.
The parties stopped.
Saturday, the first night of Hanukkah, they began anew.
The family, Michael, his wife Renee, and son Daniel, 13, is back home. The smoke damage is repaired. And the Jewish Festival of Lights has double meaning this year.
“We hadn’t done one for a while,” said Renee Sidman, tears welling up. “We’re so grateful to have our house back. It’s a blessing to see this house so alive.”
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple. Also called Festival of Lights, eight candles are lit, a day at a time, on a Menorah, a nine-branched candelabrum.
The Sidman house on Wilson Road was teeming with friends and neighbors, many from the Temple Shalom in Colorado Springs, many of them children. Every free bit of counter space in the kitchen was laden with food.
The Menorahs sat, in a place of honor, on the kitchen’s center bar. Every family brought their own.
“It’s our celebration of religious freedom,” said Michael Sidman. “You are seeing the beginning of it.”
For Anna Goldstein, 12, this is also a celebration of family.
“It’s really a fun way to get my family together,” she said.
Her favorite part is the games, when the kids have dreidel wars, seeing who can keep their top spinning the longest. The winner gets a chocolate gelt, or coin.
Michael Sidman started the lighting of the candles, or kindling, by lighting the shamash, a special candle traditionally used to light the other candles.
The kids then lit the first candle for the first day, as traditional music wafted overhead. In unison, the group said three blessings.
One of them, in Hebrew, thanked “God for bringing them to this joyous day,” said Brian Zable.
Then they eat.
“It’s a Jewish event,” Renee Sidman said. “You have to eat.”