JCC Chicago will be celebrating Hanukkah this year with their annual Eight Nights of Hanukkah event for the community from December 18-25.
Matthew Charnay, the manager of family programming at JCC Chicago, said the celebration first formed in 2020 as a response to the pandemic to bring the community together during a time of isolation. Now in the waning days of COVID-19, JCC Chicago will be bringing back Eight Nights of Hanukkah back into the public sphere.
“Each night of Hanukkah is hosted by one of the J’s programs like Apachi Day Camp, Camp Chi, JCC Chicago Early Childhood and JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival,” said Charnay. “We’ve held virtual film screenings, song sessions, challah braiding and drive-up concerts all to bring the Chicagoland community together during the holiday season. Now that we are all able to be together again, it’s exciting to bring our Eight Nights of Hanukkah programming out from behind the screen.”
Charnay said every night will have programming of different interests and allows children, families, teens and adults to come together during the Hanukkah holiday.
Popular events include challah braiding, film screenings and their biggest event at Gallagher Way outside of Wrigley Field. In Wrigleyville, the JCC welcomes over 11,000 people to light the menorah, ice skate and enjoy live entertainment.
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“It’s been incredible to watch these events grow and gain attention in just a few years,” said Charnay. “Plus, it serves as a great way to reconnect with friends. It’s a chance to meet up during the school year and enjoy some Hanukkah fun. At each nightly program, we light the menorah and sing the prayers as a community.”
Charnay said the eight nights are a great way to experience what the JCC is all about and learn about the programs and services available there. The events are open for all to enjoy, and they encourage participants to bring their family and friends.
“Now more than ever, it’s important to come together as a community,” said Charnay. “In these recent days with so much attention paid to negativity against the Jewish community, it’s so crucial to be positive and open to learning about one another. Anytime our community can come together for a fun, engaging and interesting experience — that is a win. JCC Chicago is a vibrant and diverse community where all are welcome.”
Here are some other Hanukkah events happening at JCCs across the country.
Marcus JCC Atlanta
The Marcus JCC of Atlanta (MJCCA) will host its Light up the JCC Hanukkah celebration on December 20 at 5 p.m. The event will be led by Rabbi Brian Glusman, and attendees will be treated to a menorah lighting, Hanukkah songs, performances and free hot chocolate and doughnuts all outside in the MJCCA courtyard, weather permitting.
Osher Marin JCC
Located just north of San Francisco, California, the Osher Marin JCC will celebrate the holiday with Hanukkah Inside Out. The event is open to all families and will feature the musical stylings of Bay Area favorite Jonathan Bayer, latkes to snack on, a time to create family ritual guides, hear creative retellings of the Hanukkah story, and more.
On December 22, the Boulder JCC will host the Chanukkah on Ice celebration for families and friends. Attendees will be able to ice skate from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. while also enjoying Chanukkah music, delicious sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and hot chocolate. Everyone is welcome to stay for the lighting of the Chanukah Menorah in Louisville, Colorado.
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