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24, Kislev 5778

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A Special Thanks

Co-sponsored by The PJ Library. Partially funded by generous grants from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund and the Koret-Taube Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood.

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Jewish Programs


Latkepalooza Unplugged: A Community Hanukkah Celebration

Latkepalooza Unplugged

FREE PJCC Community Event!

Saturday, December 16, 2017
4:00 – 6:30 pm at the PJCC

Register Today!

Celebrate the festival of Hanukkah in style at Latkepalooza Unplugged, the PJCC's community-wide Hanukkah celebration.

Bring the kids and enjoy the joyful activities for children and adults, including:

  • Live music and dancing with Saul Goodman’s Klezmer Band
  • Family Hanukkah crafts and games:
    • Face painting
    • Decorate a dreidel
    • Race your dreidel in a spin-off
    • Learn the Hanukkah blessings with family-friendly materials provided by PJ Library
    • Participate in a Latke Toss
    • Stuff your own sufganiyot
    • Go on a gelt hunt
    • Explore the Tot area
    • Make a keychain with Reboot
    • Discover circuitry with Wornick Jewish Day School
  • Wine tasting
  • Taste our Vodka and Latke cocktail
  • Candle lighting, community singing and Havdalah
  • Lotsa latkes

And much more!

A New Take on Old Traditions

By Jeni Clancy

It's that time of year again! Candles, fried potato latkes (pancakes) and spinning dreidels (tops) are poised to make their appearance in Jewish homes around the world. Hanukkah will arrive at sundown on Tuesday, December 12 this year. The day we celebrate Hanukkah changes with our western calendar but it always falls in November or December.

The word Hanukkah translates to "dedication" since it commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, following its desecration by the Greek-Syrians.

Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, Jewish families will gather around a menorah (9 branch candelabra), sing blessings and light candles in succession. On the first night, one candle plus one  “helper” (or shamash) candle will be lit, the second night we light two candles and a helper candle, and so on until the eighth night when all eight candles plus the helper candle will be lit and shine brightly to celebrate the holiday.

Adding traditions old and new
As your family gets ready to celebrate the festival of lights this year, we'd like to suggest adding some new ways to celebrate together with meaning and wonder befitting the celebration of a miracle.

Celebrate "grate" ideas
Ditch the common russet in favor of another grated & oil-fried treat. Latkes can be made from grated sweet potatoes, zucchini, and apples. Did you know that cheese latkes are also traditional? 

Open the kitchen to some kid-inspired ingredients. Indulge your kid’s suggestion that spaghetti latkes must be tried, or support older kids by letting them take the lead for the family meal from start to finish.

Recognize the good
Honor the mitzvah (good or righteous deed) of Hakarat Hatov. This Jewish value of gratitude literally translates to recognition of that which is good in our lives. During Hanukkah, take some time with family to record your blessings, capturing them on slips of paper in a jar or writing them in a special notebook each of the nights of Hanukkah. Next year you can revisit what was recorded and add to it again.

Hanukah is an opportunity to talk about miracles great and small and the role they play in your family’s lives.

Doctor up your spin
Put a new spin on an ancient top by taking a night to focus on the dreidel! Get into the groove spinning alongside the dreidel and making it a full action sport. Encourage kids to create their own dreidel arena out of cardboard, or go all out and purchase pre-fab “spinagogue” from for a game of Texas no hold-em dreidel.

Join the Fifth Night movement
Many Jewish families are choosing to forgo gifts for themselves on the fifth night of Hanukkah, giving a gift instead to a family or community organization in need of help. Spend time together talking about tzedakah (charity) and meaningful ways to donate.

Families can also designate the fifth night of Hanukkah to donate time to help their community. Kids of all ages can help with beach cleanups, donation of gently used items to charities, or food/clothing drives. Did you know children as young as four years old are able to volunteer by sorting food items at the San Francisco Food Bank with their parents?  

Snuggle up with a volume from your Hanukkah library
Our family began collecting Hanukkah children's books before my first daughter was born. We bring them out every year and their appearance on a special shelf in our home signals Hanukkah's approach. Although many of the books have been outgrown, seeing them reminds us of all the years before spent cuddling up with our stories. If you celebrate Hanukkah and are not already a PJ Library family go online to to get your family started with a free holiday collection of your own.

We hope you have fun incorporating traditions old and new into your family's celebrations this year.

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