10 Events to Light Up Your Chanukah This Year
Whether you prefer a parade that culminates in a festival or a discussion about social justice, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights in Pittsburgh.
As Thanksgiving winds down and the holiday season comes out in full-swing, Jews will begin Chanukah. Sometimes spelled “Hanukkah,” the eight-day Festival of Lights commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and celebrates the tale of the Maccabees, who defeated the Greek King Antiochus’ troops after a three-year war.
This year, Chanukah begins at sundown, like most Jewish festivals, on Nov. 28, and ends the evening of Dec. 6.
Despite its proximity to Christmas, Chanukah isn’t actually as big a deal for Jews as Christmas is for Christians. (The most sacred times for Jews are the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which take place earlier in the fall.)
Nevertheless, it’s one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays and represents a time for gathering together and celebrating community — and there are a range of events around Pittsburgh where families can do exactly that.
Chanukah Menorah Parade
Chabad notoriously offers events around the city for every Jewish holiday and festival. On Nov. 30, the third night of Chanukah, Chabad Pittsburgh will host its annual Grade Menorah Parade, departing from the rear parking lot of Rodef Shalom at 5 p.m.
The parade ends at a Chanukah celebration on Murray Avenue, featuring “Fire & Ice” themed events that include a giant ice menorah and a fire show by the Ohio Burn Unit, as well as donuts, latkes and live music.
South Hills Lights — Chanukah Menorah Lighting
From 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 1, the Borough of Dormont will sponsor the annual menorah lighting in the Dormont Pool parking lot. This year’s event, hosted by Chabad of the South Hills, will also feature an ice menorah carving, a fire show, live music and the Grand Chanukah Chocolate Gelt Drop presented by the Dormont Fire Department.
Guests can RSVP here.
From 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, join the Beth El Congregation of the South Hills for “a joyful festive evening for one and all.” The event includes Chanukah tunes with strolling musicians Janice Coppola on clarinet and Julie Harris on the guitar. Enjoy latkes, a hot chocolate bar and donuts — and even decorate your own with a range of toppings. Mike the Balloon Guy will be there to make balloon animals for families, too.
At 6:45 p.m., there will be a tiki torch menorah lighting. Guests can also participate in a bean and rice packing social action activity for an additional fee (supply cost is $18 per person, or $36 for a family), and donations of gently used bedding and winter gear can also be donated to Sisterhood & Social Action Committee’s Winter Warmth Drive.
To learn more, check out the event’s website.
The Jewish Education Program of Pittsburgh, Beth Shalom and Rodef Shalom families are invited to bring their children to play games, receive a Hanukkah goodie bag and get yummy treats to-go at the 12th-annual Latkepalooza in the rear parking lot of Beth Shalom between 10:30 a.m. and noon on Dec. 5.
In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held in Beth Shalom’s ballroom.
The event is free with a suggested donation of $10 per family.
Menorah Lighting at McCandless Crossing
At 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28, visitors are invited to join Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt and the Temple Ohav Shalom congregation as they lead the Menorah Lighting Ceremony on the Town Green at McCandless Crossing.
Turn the Tables Virtual Dinner: Hanukkah & Colonialism
Join Repair the World Pittsburgh for a virtual dinner from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. Attendees will discuss how to take action toward dismantling colonialist attitudes and ideas as they relate to Hanukkah, the Hanukkah story, and Judaism.
Boxed meals will be available for pickup in advance of the event.
Guests can register here.
Virtual Latke Skillshare
This virtual event with 412 Food Rescue and Repair the World Pittsburgh will help attendees learn about using food scraps to make latkes. A latke-making supply list will be shared in advance with all who register. Supplies will be available by request.
There will also be a talk about food justice and time for guests to enjoy their Chanukah treats together virtually.
You can register here.
JCC’s Chanukah Celebration: Light Up Night 7
From 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 4. the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will host a range of family-friendly activities, including games, crafts, giveaways and sufganiyot. At the Forbes Avenue Menorah in front of the Jewish Community Center, guests can celebrate Havdalah together and then join in a Chanukah candle lighting immediately after.
Attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be distributed through the Christian Church of Wilkinsburg. Toys for all ages and interests will be accepted.
A Chanukah Seminar
From 9:30 to 11 a.m. on Nov. 28, Jewish Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will present a special Chanukah seminar to get you in the Chanukah spirit for the eight days to come. The event will be online via Zoom and cost $12.
You can register here.
At Monroeville’s Temple David, teams will participate in a variety of holiday-themed challenges over the course of the eight-day festival to earn points and win prizes at the closing ceremony, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
While the time to RSVP ended on Nov. 19, non-team-members are still invited to cheer teams on. From 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5, the entire community is invited to gather in the temple parking lot or join via Zoom for closing ceremonies and the lighting of a Chanukkah.