Celebrating Hanukkah in Iowa isn't easy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Celebrating Hanukkah in Iowa isn't easy

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- In Iowa, there are just more than 6,000 Jews; that's only 0.2% of the population according to the most recent census numbers. In Dubuque, there are roughly 25 Jewish families.

With such a low population, anything Hanukkah related in stores is pretty much impossible. So for the Jewish community, celebrating holidays means getting creative.

At the Aidenbaums, latkes sizzled on the stove. Latkes are traditional potato pancakes made in celebration of Hanukkah. On Sunday, the third night of Hanukkah, the celebration extended to non-Jewish friends.

"My mom always had people who were Jewish and people who weren't and so it's not anything different, and because we don't have any family here, our friends here have become our family," Jaclyn Aidenbaum said.

Jaclyn and Steve Aidenbaum moved to Dubuque from Detroit about three years ago.

"It was really hard. I worked in a Jewish community. I grew up in a very heavily populated Jewish community also, and so coming here, it's been very hard," Jaclyn Aidenbaum said.

Families like the Aidenbaums have found it tough to even find traditional Jewish food or supplies in town.

"There's no deli. You can't buy a corned beef sandwich like you can in the Detroit area and so it's just been having to get accustomed to that," Steve Aidenbaum said.

Now, the Aidenbaums have a new baby, Emily, and they're working even harder to practice their faith at home.

"Now that we have a baby, we want to do more because she doesn't have the Jewish preschool, the Hebrew school to go to, and so it's up to us to really be teaching her," Jaclyn Aidenbaum said.

So, even being in a religious minority, this family has found a way to keep Jewish tradition, just with a new sort of family.

Dubuque has a synagogue, Temple Beth El, which has services once a month.  Members say the Jewish community is very strong and tight-knit because they all have to pull together.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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