This past Wednesday marked the beginning of one of Judaism’s biggest holidays. Hanukkah is an eight day-long event, celebrating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE. The holiday typically occurs anytime from late November to late December, and this year it comes at the far end of the spectrum, running until December 28th.
Around Washington, D.C., there are numerous ways to enjoy, with events in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
The biggest, literally, is the National Hanukkah Menorah, which sits right outside the White House Grounds. The Menorah symbolizes the miracle that happened in the 2nd century BCE. The story tells that when many Jews were trapped in their temple due to a revolt, they worried that they only had enough candle oil to last one night. The oil, however, managed to last eight full days, enough time for the people inside the temple to prepare new oil.
The lighting ceremony of the main candle of the National Hanukkah Menorah, which stays lit throughout the celebration, took place on the Mall on Wednesday. But each night for the rest of the holiday, a lighting ceremony will take place for each new candle.
While it’s a symbolic way to celebrate, the National Menorah is far from the only way to enjoy this holiday season. There are plenty of activities for adults and children alike.
One of the largest celebrations is a gala aimed at the younger crowd. For 25 straight years, the Society of Young Jewish Professionals, and more recently JDate, have paired up to present the MatzoBall.
Geared toward singles under the age of 50, the MatzoBall is a nationwide event that gives young Jewish people the opportunity to mingle and network. This year, galas are being thrown in New York City, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. In our own town, the MatzoBall is on Saturday, December 24th. It runs from 8:00 p.m. all the way until 3:00 a.m. and tickets cost $30.
For a more relaxing celebration, on December 25th, revelers can head to Old Town, Alexandria, for the Hanukkah Festival of Old Town, hosted by the Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington. Chabad Lubavitch is Hebrew for Brotherly Love, and their Northern Virginia branch throws a free celebration worthy of that moniker. At the Crowne Plaza Hotel, on North Fairfax Street, the group will light a six-foot tall menorah, hold free raffles, host live bands and cook hot potato latkes.
Across the river, in downtown Bethesda, the Chabad Lubavitch of Bethesda-Chevy Chase will be holding a kid-friendly celebration, Thursday, December 22nd, at Bethesda Row. Chanukah in Candyland is free to attend, and has numerous activities for kids of all ages. The perks of Chanukah in Candyland are a magic show, free souvenir dreidels, cotton candy and popcorn and a sight that is sure to wow just about every child: a menorah, which will be lit at the end of the festivities, made entirely out of jelly beans. That’s right, a jelly bean menorah.
It’s a fun way, among the many other options, to celebrate the enjoyable holiday that is Hanukkah.
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