hanukkah header Hanukkah in LA

Family lighting Hanukkah Menorah (credit: istock.com)

We can thank Adam Sandler and his Chanukah Song for increasing awareness of the Festival of Lights around the United States and the world. Yes my friends, it is that time of year again when Jewish boys and girls get giddy with the thought of the gifts that they will receive this holiday.

What is Hanukkah? (Or Hanukah? Or Chanukah?)

Chanukah is a celebration of the rededication of the Temple after it had been defiled by the Syrian Greeks. A group of Jews known as the Maccabees fought a war and against all odds defeated the Syrian Greeks. When they went to relight the Temple menorah they discovered that there was only enough oil for one day. Instead it miraculously burned for eight days.

This year the holiday begins at sunset on Wednesday December 1, 2010 and continues through nightfall on Thursday December 9, 2010. The first candle is lit the night of 12/1. The last candle is lit the night of 12/8. The reason why the dates seem to float is because the Jewish year is based upon a lunar calendar and not a solar one as is the civil calendar. The two calendars are of different lengths of time so things do not always match up. So Chanukah, (also spelled Hanukkah or Hanukah) starts every year on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Jewish families follow a number of Chanukah traditions including lighting the menorah and eating traditional foods like Latkes (potato pancakes), soofganiyot (jelly donuts) and brisket. They also like to play Spin the Dreidel, a traditional spinning top game. Dreidels have four [Hebrew] letters on them, and they stand for the saying, “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham,”meaning “a great miracle occurred there.” In Israel, instead of the fourth letter “shin,” there is a “peh,” which means the saying is “Nes Gadol Hayah Po”–“a great miracle occurred here.

Local Chanukah Celebrations

Wednesday December 1

Chabad of the Valley Presents Chanukah Festival

Universal City Walk
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
More Info

5:00 to 9:00 PM
This celebration is not your father’s Hanukah party. This one includes Jewish rock and comedy performances, dancing, and kosher food as well as a Menorah Lighting. Admission is free but parking is $10 to $20.

Pershing Square

Pershing Square 532 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
More Info

The Menorah will be lit on the South West corner of the Pershing Square venue. The ceremony will begin at sunset. Food will be available for purchase. Plan your trip around the parking.

Thursday, December 2

The Sherman Oaks Galleria Annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony

15301 Ventura Blvd
Building B, Suite 360
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
(818) 382.4100
More Info

5:00 PM
There will be free activities for the entire family including arts & crafts and face painting for the kids, and a performance by Chabad Hebrew School’s chorus.

Community Chanukah Celebration

JCC at Milken, 22622 Vanowen St.
West Hills. CA
(818) 464-3300
More Info

5:00 PM
This party features music, menorah lighting, food for purchase and more.

Chanukah Celebration at Constitution Park

Constitution Park
1287 Paseo Camarillo
Camarillo, CA
(805) 383-7882
More Info

5:00 – 7:00 PM
The Chabad Jewish Center of Camarillo will host a Chanukah celebration including a menorah lighting, music, juggling, latkes, prizes for children and a raffle.

Sunday, December 5

Westfield Topanga Mall

6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Canoga Park, CA

4:00 PM
The Chabad of West Hills will host a menorah lighting on the lower level of the mall near Nordstrom.

Ice At Santa Monica

1324 5th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 496-9880
More Info

Santa Monica will host a Chanukah celebration including a menorah lighting.

Thursday, December 9

Northridge Fashion Center

9301 Tampa Ave.
Northridge, CA 91325

6:30 PM
Temple Ahavat Shalom will host a menorah lighting at this landmark Valley mall.

Bonus! Rules for playing Dreidel

1. There is no limit on the maximum number of players but at a minimum you need at least two.

2. The players start the game with an equal number of game pieces (about 20). Game pieces can be raisins, pennies, M&Ms etc.

3. Every round starts with each participant submitting one game piece into the “pot.” Whenever the pot is empty or has only one game piece left, the players should put another piece in the pot.

4. Each player receives a turn during which they spin the dreidel once. Depending on the outcome they will gain or lose game pieces from/to the pot.

5. If they spin a Nun the player does nothing.

6. If they spin Gimmel the player gets everything in the pot.
7. If they spin Hey the player gets half of the pot.

8. If they spin Shin or Peh the player adds a game piece to the pot.

9. If you lose all of your game pieces you are out of the game.

Joshua Wilner is a father of two and writer in Los Angeles
  1. Donna says:

    Finally got around to reading this (what can I say? Chanukah came way too early this year). Just wanted to leave you a “well done” message. 🙂

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