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Hanukkah In New York: Lights, Cameras, Action

Ellen Levitt

Posted on December 9, 2018 21:21

1 user

Hanukkah was celebrated throughout the world this week, and in New York City there were several public events marking the holiday in various ways.

Hanukkah 2018 (5779 in the Jewish calendar) is in its final day. Communities around the world have lit menorahs with candles or oil lamps, played the customary dreidel ("sivivon" in Hebrew) spinning top game, ate traditional and updated foods such as latkes (potato and root-vegetable pancakes) and jelly donuts, sang songs and recited prayers.

In New York City, Hanukkah is a big deal and this past week there were many celebrations and some made the news. One of the more unusual Hanukkah sights was of a man dressed in a blue dreidel costume; he was filmed spinning around in a few subway trains and stations. 

Around the city there were public lightings of menorahs, many of which were conducted by the Chabad Lubavitch Orthodox Jews. Two of the most prominent locations for these nightly lightings were Manhattan's Central Park and at Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Many other parks and even small plazas hosted such lightings, along with singing songs and distributing kosher snacks.

Temple Emanu-El, the large and esteemed Reform synagogue on 5th Avenue in the Upper East Side, held a special Hanukkah- Friday night Sabbath service, which featured a performance by Peter Yarrow, of the legendary folk-rock trio Peter, Paul and Mary. Toward the end of his concert he sang the English-language Hanukkah song "Light One Candle." 

On a different musical note, the indie-rock trio Yo La Tengo played their 17th annual Hanukkah concert series, this time at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. Each night of Hanukkah they played a show featuring their own songs as well as covers. Guest musicians joined them, including the 1960s pop group the Strangeloves. They set up a menorah on a speaker for each show. 

Museums around town also sponsored Hanukkah events, many tailored to families with children. Among these were the Museum of the City of New York, and the Jewish Museum (which also had a lecture about menorah lamps in their collection). 

You could buy lots of Hanukkah-themed food this past week, especially at bakeries such as Cake Center in Brooklyn, and even in major supermarkets like Stop & Shop on Avenue Y in Sheepshead Bay (which also featured a large menorah in its parking lot). There was even a latke festival held at the Brooklyn Museum, where you could sample many types of these favorite treats. 

Throughout the five boroughs of New York you could find many houses and apartments, public spaces and businesses all displaying menorahs (candle, oil and electric types) and other Hanukkah decorations. 

Hanukkah is actually not a major holiday in the Jewish calendar; Rosh HaShana and Passover are considered fuller festivals. However, for many reasons Hanukkah has taken on a prominent and public persona in the United States and elsewhere. The holiday lights contrast with the early onset of darkness each night, and the joyous aspects of the holiday such as songs, gift giving, food and crafts has given it additional meaning and endearing qualities. I truly enjoy celebrating it each year.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on December 9, 2018 21:21

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Source: NJ.com

The New York City marathon is over, but the much more grueling November-December 63-day holiday marathon has just begun.

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