With eight nights and multiple celebrations happening throughout the city, Chanukah 2017 is sure to be memorable for Steel City residents. Between potato pancakes, parades and a STEAM fair, there are ample opportunities to mark the festival of lights.
On Sunday, Dec. 10, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Community Day School and PJ Library Pittsburgh will host the first-ever STEAM Festival of Light. Hundreds of children and their families are expected to participate in an afternoon of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) in celebration of Chanukah, said Jennifer Bails, CDS’ director of marketing and communications. The free event will take place at CDS, 6424 Forward Ave. in Squirrel Hill.
On Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., there may be the biggest bash of all, as the annual menorah parade and Chanukah festival gets underway. Beginning at Rodef Shalom Congregation, more than 100 cars, many topped with menorahs, will proceed from Shadyside to Homestead.
Upon arriving at The Waterfront Shopping Center, participants will enjoy a festival including live music, a heated tent with food vendors, games and activities for kids and a special grand menorah lighting.
Shalom Pittsburgh is joining with Chabad of Western Pennsylvania and Bnai Emunoh Chabad to make the evening even greater for young families, as the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh group will host a family- and kid-friendly booth with crafts and snacks, said Carolyn Slayton, Shalom Pittsburgh associate.
That same evening, from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha is holding a Chanukah party and community candle lighting, said Alex Speck, a teacher at Torah Lishmah Community (the congregation’s religious school).
On Thursday, Dec. 14, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Katz Theater, 5738 Darlington Road, in Squirrel Hill, several factions of the JCC are collaborating on “Shine the Light with Social Justice Disco.”
The event features Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin, as well as special guests Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale, Ezra Smith, Christina Springer, Johnny Creed Coe, SunBear Coe and Miguel Sague Jr., with performances of original and legendary songs including “I Will Survive,” “Staying Alive,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?” said Cathy Samuels, JCC’s senior director of development and communications.
Presented by the JCC’s American Jewish Museum and Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement at the JCC, the evening is open to those ages 13 and older. A cash bar is available. Tickets are $10 or $25, which includes a meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m. with the artists.
For those seeking additional ways to celebrate the season, several events are planned for Shabbat Chanukah.
At Temple B’nai Israel in White Oak, “we’re having our annual Chanukah dinner before our Shabbat service on Dec. 15,” said Rabbi Paul Tuchman. The event will include the familiar activities of lighting menorahs, eating latkes, singing songs and enjoying an erev Shabbat service.
In the South Hills, Beth El Congregation is welcoming Sara Stock Mayo as a guest cantorial soloist for its Friday evening service. The “lively” exercise will also showcase “your favorite melodies — even klezmer-style on the clarinet,” according to the congregation.
Following the service, there will be a Chanukah dinner with a deluxe latke and salad bar as well as sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). Various activities are being planned for kids.
At Temple David in Monroeville, “we have our annual Chanukah and Shabbat dinner in which each family brings their own chanukiah to light,” said Rabbi Barbara Symons. Additionally, “our religious school will be traveling to a local nursing home (Concordia) to share Chanukah with them.”
At Repair the World: Pittsburgh, Chanukah will be also be marked by a Shabbat dinner. But in addition to the food-related activity, there will be a Jewish Relief Agency volunteer event and a documentary screening with Moishe House.
The latter will occur on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. at the Repair Workshop, 6022 Broad St., and feature “One of Us,” a film that explores the journey of leaving Chasidism and joining the secular world, said Zack Block, Repair’s executive director.
In furthering the fun of a Chanukah weekend, the South Hills is hosting its first communitywide teen party on Dec. 16, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. With traditional Chanukah foods, fun, games and prizes, the party is free and open to all Jewish teens in grades 8-12, said Andrew Exler, regional director of the Keystone Mountain Region BBYO.
Those attending are encouraged to bring a canned food or gently used clothing to donate to the South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Visit southhillsjewishpittsburgh.org for more information. Event location provided upon registration.
On Sunday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., JJEP will hold its eighth annual Latkepalooza at Congregation Beth Shalom. Complete with latkes, music, prizes and crafts for kids, the event is sure to please, said Liron Lipinsky, JJEP’s director.
And on Monday, Dec. 18, the Borough of Dormont, at 1444 Hillsdale Ave., is hosting a communitywide menorah lighting with kid-friendly activities. PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz