From fair trade menorahs to art murmur events, the East Bay's Jewish community is using Hanukkah to showcase the many ways this diverse community comes together. From children to young professionals to traditional family ceremonies, there is something for everyone.
There's usually a focus on children at Hanukkah, and several organizations are making sure there are things for young ones to do to mark the eight-day holiday, which begins at sunset Dec. 8.
Piedmont's Kehilla Synagogue is planning a big party on the first night of Hanukkah, starting with a concert for kids by local favorites Octopretzel. The holiday will kick off with a bring-your-own-menorah mass lighting of candles at 6 p.m. A vegetarian potluck will follow, with signing and Klezmer music after that.
One big party for children is sponsored by Jewish Gateways, an organization that helps people find the right community by encouraging them to explore the various options around the bay. The party is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, PJ Library, Tehiyah Day School and Jewish Federation of the East Bay. It starts with arts and crafts, continues with storytelling and leads to a concert for children by local musician Isaac Zones. Bring gently worn athletic shoes for the World Wear Project.
According to Rabbi Bridget Wynne of Jewish Gateways, adults need a way to celebrate, too. The same organizations are also sponsoring an adult event from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 13 for those looking to explore the more serious elements of Hanukkah, starting with candle-lighting but continuing with workshops on themes like social justice and revisionist history. The evening will end with something more lighthearted, though -- drinks, music and mingling.
With a new take on the usual Hanukkah traditions, EastBayJews, a group for young adults that is affiliated with the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, is creating a space at Oakland's art murmur, the monthly art gallery crawl that draws thousands of people from across the Bay Area. Partnering with other Jewish groups, EastBayJews will host games, activities, raffles and prizes as a pre-Hanukkah celebration and way to make a Jewish presence part of the murmur. They'll also solicit wrapped toys as donations for children in need in Contra Costa County.
Oakland's venerable Beth Jacob congregation, founded in 1893, is also taking a different sort of cultural tradition as a starting point and hosting a family Chinese food dinner Hanukkah feast. After candle-lighting, guests will sit down for a fun and competitive game of movie trivia.
To get ready for the gift-giving season, Congregation Beth El's Annual Hanukkah Bazaar is opening before the holiday. Besides selling a pre-Hanukkah taste of latkes, the Berkeley temple will set up shop with menorahs, jewelry, Jewish music, books, toys and party supplies on offer. Before the bazaar opens, children can stop by for family fun, at 10 a.m.
For some fair-trade Hanukkah merchandise, Berkeley synagogue Netivot Shalom is hosting a sale before the holiday begins. To the strains of live Jewish rock and traditional music, kids can jump in a bounce house while shoppers find local menorahs, dreidels and candles as well as fair-trade gifts from Africa, Asia and South America. Calligrapher Debra Band and children's author Josh Buchin will also stop by and there's even fair trade Hanukkah geld.
Kehilla Synagogue: 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont, www.kehillasynagogue.org, 510-547-2424
Jewish Community Center of the East Bay: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 9, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, www.jcceastbay.org, 510-559-8140; $5. Event for adults will be 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 13
EastBayJews: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Douglas Parking, Broadway Avenue north of 23rd Street, 510-318-6435
Beth Jacob congregation: 6:45 p.m. Dec. 15, $10 per person, $36 per family, 3778 Park Blvd., firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation Beth El: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley, www.bethelberkeley.org
Netivot Shalom: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley, netivottest.org