Chanukah Is Here!

(istockphoto.com/Tabitazn)

(David Stuck)

Chabad Lubavitch Centers of Greater Baltimore is once again partnering with the Mayor’s Office for the annual lighting of the 30-foot Esther Ann Menorah, sponsored by David S. Brown Enterprises.

The event will take place as part of the Baltimore Chanukah Festival on Sunday, Dec. 25 at McKeldin Square in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s a great time, and similar events have been taking place around the globe,” said Rabbi Levi Druk, whose Chabad of Downtown is hosting.

“This gives us the opportunity to celebrate as Jews in America,” Druk continued. “It’s also  exciting because the Chabad of Downtown is growing, and this is a way to continue reaching out to and helping to grow the Jewish community downtown.”

Druk detailed that the event is free, tents and patio heaters will be in place to combat the colder weather, and there will be plenty of hot cider, along with Chanukah doughnuts.

The Brooklyn Sandwich Co. food truck from Washington, D.C., will be on the premises for those interested in purchasing New York-deli style glatt kosher food.

There will be various other family-friendly activities to enjoy at the event’s Chanukah Wonderland starting at 2 p.m., including face painting, cookie decorating, an olive press show (in which children can press their own oil), live music and an exhibition by the Dreidel Dancers (who Druk said are exactly what they sound like — dancers dressed up as large dreidels: “They make for good pictures!”).

It’s important to note, as Druk added, that this year’s Chanukah Car Parade will not take place as part of the downtown menorah lighting and will instead occur on Monday, Dec. 26 from 6 p.m. to roughly 7 p.m in the northwest part of Baltimore.

The parade route this year starts and ends at Cheder Chabad in Park Heights, with Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum — director of the Jewish Uniformed Services Association of Maryland — suggesting the best spot to catch the 75 or so cars fashioned with their own menorah in the procession will be at the intersection of Fallstaff Road and Clarks Lane at around 6:30 p.m.

“Sometimes, we have a trailer with a big menorah that joins the parade,” Tenenbaum said. “Usually, we have a firetruck, the Hatzalah ambulance … and many times even stretch limos to add to the festivities. It’s all a big part of spreading the light throughout the city.”

More information for the downtown Chanukah Festival and Car Parade events at  BaltimoreChanukahFestival.com.

The JCC’s weeklong celebration of the Festival of Lights, Chanukahpalooza 2016, kicks off with Chanukah at Foundry Row (10100 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills) on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The series of activities involve Krieger Schechter Day School students singing Chanukah songs, story time and an interactive activity with PJ Library, face painting, balloon art, Dreidel spinning with JCC Early Childhood education Kehillah Project, holiday card making with the Jewish Volunteer Connection, beeswax candles with The  Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, making edible dreidels and a meet-up at the menorah with Rabbi Jessy Gross.

“We’re hoping to see a lot of familiar faces and families this year,” said JCC senior programmer Sharon Seigel, who is coordinating the event.

On Monday, Dec. 19, Chanukahpalooza’s Chanukah at Hunt Valley Towne Centre goes on from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a continuation of many of the activities from the previous day and a program in which 20 percent of all proceeds from those eating at the mall’s California Pizza Kitchen that night go to the JCC.

Family Fun Mitzvah Day, also a component of Chanukahpalooza, happens in partnership with the Jewish Volunteer Connection on Sunday, Dec. 25 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mill JCC. The free event offers fun activities and mitzvah opportunities for attendees of all ages.

Organizer Laura Green Kendal, director of the afterschool program at the JCC and assistant director of the J Day Camp, said, “This is a great place for people who don’t have somewhere to go on Christmas, whether Jew  or not, who might feel like outsiders during the holiday.

“It’s a place to get together to celebrate community and really have pride in giving back.”

Mitzvah opportunities range from working to supply the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with different toys and beddings for animals to making holiday cards that will festoon special deliveries for Meals On Wheels and the Make One Take One program in which children can make crafts for themselves and also send craft materials/instructions to patients at Sinai Children’s Hospital.

“All together, we have about nine or 10 mitzvah tables this year,” Kendal said.

Charm City Tribe’s yearly Chanukah Brew Ha Ha is  another Chanukahpalooza event not to be missed and is bubbling up on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at Union Craft Brewery from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“One of the things that I know Charm City Tribe does well is throw a good party,” said JCC director of Jewish Life and CCT founder/director Gross, who went on to say the Brew Ha Ha will offer great beer along with delicious food from co-sponsors the Green Bowl and the Charmery.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to come together and do Jewish rituals as a community,” Gross said. “It will be a unique night for Chanukah.”

The Festival of (Laser) Lights Show at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts will be the final night’s conclusion to the Chanukahpalooza.

The event lights up at 7 p.m. and is appropriate for all ages with “mesmerizing laser beams [that] illuminate the epic tale of Chanukah in a breathtaking display that culminates in the lighting of a giant menorah,” according to the press release.

“It’s a really neat way for the community to come together and celebrate the Festival of Lights this year,” said Gordon Center senior managing director arts and culture Randi Benesch.

More information about the series of events of Chanukahpalooza 2016 at jcc.org/chanukah; jcc.org/charmcitytribe (Brew Ha Ha registration; or contact  Ellie Brown: ehbrown@jcc.org); jcc.org/event/festival-laser-lights-show (for laser light show; order tickets online at gordoncenter.com)

For those south of the city, the Jewish Federation of Howard County is hosting a number of Chanukah events. On Dec. 17, Federation members Diane and Rob Freedman host a latkes and vodka party, and on Dec. 28, the Federation hosts its candle lighting, featuring singing and light  refreshments on the fifth night of Chanukah. Visit  jewishhowardcounty.org/holidays for more information.

For information on events local synagogues are hosting, visit bit.ly/2gEYkNP.

For information on musical Chanukah events in the local area, visit http://jewishtimes.com/55615/chanukah-concerts-kick-off-with-klezmer/special_coverage/chanukah/

mklickstein@midatlanticmedia.com

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