Right now, the world feels bleak. While war in the Middle East rages on more than 6,000 miles away, it feels very close to many people in Cincinnati. Our Israeli community is concerned for loved ones and Americans are worried about their family members and friends living in Israel. The entire community either has ties to the ongoing conflict or is feeling the effects of rising antisemitism here at home—or both.
Each day, though, we find moments of light in the darkness by going about our everyday lives. Continuing to live fully vibrant lives and connecting with other members of our Jewish community are acts of defiance against those who want to harm or silence us. This concept of light amid darkness is particularly poignant this time of year as we near Hanukkah. Much like the oil that burned for eight days, which defied reason and understanding, the Jewish community remains resilient.
“During these times, it’s important to remember the importance of tikkun olam – ‘repairing the world’,” Mayerson JCC Chief Program Officer Holly Wolfson said. “Even in the darkest times in Jewish history, it’s been important to celebrate our traditions and holidays, like Hanukkah, which brings light and hope into the world.” The Mayerson JCC will host several Hanukkah gatherings to bring light into our community this year.
The first event to celebrate Hanukkah is a smaller gathering for just 20s and 30s, Young Adult Hanukkah Celebration on December 10 in partnership with the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division (YAD) and Cincinnati Jewish Experience. At this in-home event you will make latkes and enjoy the holiday with friends. 20s & 30s Engagement Professional LuLu Gordon is eager to engage a diverse group of young adults in the community with this event.
“This event will take place in a kosher kitchen and is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how people across the Jewish community celebrate the holiday,” Gordon said.
The next event open to the entire community is Israeli Hanukkah on December 11 in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. This free, family-friendly event will bring together our community with our Shaliach, Chaverot, and Israeli neighbors for a celebration that will include sufganiyot decorating, games, and music.
Another community favorite in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is Hanukkah on Fountain Square on December 13. Participants of all ages can ice skate, ride bumper cars, and enjoy other festive activities. We will light the menorah together at 7:30pm. This can be viewed from the square, which means all members of the public, in addition to those ice skating, can enjoy this portion of the evening.
“This is an incredible opportunity to celebrate publicly,” Wolfson said. “The light that we find in the darkness comes from the strength of our community, something we are seeing worldwide right now.”
The final event and for many young adults, the highlight of the Hanukkah season, is Latkapalooza—an annual party in partnership with Jewish Federation’s YAD division. The event will be held at the Woodward Theatre on December 24. While it’s happening after Hanukkah ends this year, it gives young
adults who may not have family in town, or who aren’t celebrating Christmas Eve, a fun way to spend the evening and gather with community.
“We’re supposed to celebrate and have Jewish joy at Hanukkah,” Director of Cultural Arts & Engagement Frances Kahan said. “These events are an opportunity to lean into that. They give us the chance to celebrate our Judaism and our community.”
There is truly something for everyone this Hanukkah, whether you are looking to have fun with your family or spend time with your friends. Just make sure you find a way to bring light into the world.