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Chanukah 2015 Recap

Thursday, 24 December, 2015 - 9:19 am

This year’s Chanukah celebrations were really taken to a new level. Maybe it is the energy of the Hakhel year. Each event was well attended and very meaningful. I will attempt to do justice to the week that was Chanukah 2015.

On Sunday, December 6 – the first night of Chanukah – nearly 600 people gathered at the Spanish Plaza for Chanukah @ Riverwalk. Great weather and an enthusiastic crowd converged to create a wonderful event. The changed time for the Saints game did not deter the “Chanukah faithful” from enjoying the festivities that included music, a laser show, Kosher Cajun food, latke bar, Dreidel Man, a dreidel house and face painting for children and much more. Benny Naghi lit the giant Menorah, while Roselle Ungar served as MC. Morris Bart, one of the event sponsors shared meaningful words and wished longtime Chanukah @ Riverwalk coordinator, David Kaufmann a speedy recovery.

At the same time, 80 miles west on the I-10, Chabad of Baton Rouge held its inaugural Chanukah event on the steps of the Capital. 100 hundred people, including the mayor of Baton Rouge, attended and watched with pride as the Menorah was lit while Jewish music, kosher food and Chanukah fun were on display on the steps of state capital building.

On Monday, December 7, as the sun went down, Tulane president Michael Fitts, encouraged those gathered at Chabad of Tulane’s Menorah lighting on the Quad, to increase their commitment to celebrating Chanukah and their Jewish heritage. The students, who were taking a quick break from finals study time, enjoyed latkes and sufganiyot while watching the candles burn brightly. Over the week of Chanukah students and grad students enjoyed a number of Chanukah events and activities offered by Tulane Chabad.

Over in Jefferson Parish, 60 children and their parents were building their very own Menorahs at Home Depot in an event presented by Chabad Metairie. While in Baton Rouge the Chanukah party for Israeli mall workers was a big hit.

On Tuesday, December 8 a Chanukah for Israelis at Chabad Metairie attracted a very nice crowd. A BBQ, game show, music, and good ole schmoozing topped off the night. As things were starting to wind down a new group of Israelis piled in fresh off their mall duty. Earlier in the day a Chanukah themed Lunch N Learn was held at NY Camera.

On Wednesday, December 9 the Celebrity Chef Latke Cookoff for Young Jewish Professionals was held at Chabad Uptown. 80 YJPs enjoyed the latkes of Chefs Zach Engel, Jeff Baron and Lee Sands. Raffle prizes, food, music, a Menorah lighting and a great atmosphere were enjoyed by all. In the end the judges and the popular vote anointed Zach Engel as the 2015 Celebrity Chef Latke Cookoff champion. In Hattiesburg another group of mall Israelis had a Chanukah party with Rabbi Nemes.

On Thursday, December 10 a Chanukah party took place at Lambeth House. Singing children, dreidel distribution and Menorah lighting and Chanukah refreshments really lifted the spirits of the residents.

In Biloxi at the Edgewater Mall, Chabad of Southern Mississippi held their annual Chanukah event. The Mayor put in an appearance along with a Menorah lighting, crafts and activities for the children, Chanukah refreshments and fun for all ages.

On Friday, December 11 Chabad Metairie had a Friday night dinner and Chanukah party that drew record attendance. Pre-Shabbat activities along with a spirited Shabbat dinner were enjoyed by all.

On Saturday, December 12 the Mobile Menorah Parade (Krewe of Chanukah) rolled through the streets of NOLA. While we ran into some holiday competition downtown, the folks in the French Quarter and Marigny that received the Chanukah beads (sponsored by Mardi Gras Zone) were loving it. Cell phones were snapping photos and taking video of the Chanukah parade. (I heard one child on Royal St asking his mother, “Isn’t Chanukah spelled with an H? Boy did he open a can of worms.) An after party at Chabad (thank you Schreiber family) capped off a really fun evening.

The Jewish community had many additional Chanukah events. JCRS, JCC, JNOLA, Torah Academy and others hosted successful Chanukah events. 

Most importantly the message of Chanukah has truly been spread forth in every direction. May we continue to enjoy the light and warmth of Chanukah for a long time to come.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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