Chanukah? Hanukkah? Either Way – Let’s Celebrate!

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It’s almost here: the Festival of Lights. Chanukah starts at sunset Thursday, December 7th and ends at sunset, Friday, December 15th. Time to stock up on potatoes for latkes, find a local bakery with the best sufganiyot, and bulk order that Manischewitz. Check out our Guide to Jewish-owned eateries here! 

Lighting the menorah
The festival of lights

There’s always lots of fun things to do with the family during the holiday season. If you’re looking for a broader assortment of winter activities, check out our articles “The 16 Best Local Holiday Markets and Craft Fairs” or the “December Family-Friendly Events Guide.” If you’re only interested in Chanukah content, then keep on reading!

Chanukah Events

Menorah Lightings

The National Menorah Lighting
December 7th, 3-6 PM
The White House Ellipse, DC. Tickets are required, but are free.
The lighting of the national menorah is usually attended by members of the administration, like the President and Vice President, as well as local and national Jewish celebrities. For sure there will be fun musical performances! 

Kensington Menorah Lighting
December 7th, 6:00 PM
Kensington Town Hall, 3710 Mitchell Street Kensington,MD 20895
Music and treats are promised.

National Landing Menorah Lighting
December 11th, 5:30 PM
Met Park at Amazon HQ, 1330 S Fair Street Arlington, VA 22202
Tickets are free but registration is required. Food, music and hot cocoa included.

Attend a Play

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Runs November 30th-December 31st, 3-6 PM
The Puppet Company, Glen Echo Park, MD. Tickets $15/person (under 2 free).
This was one of my favorite books during childhood. It tells the tale of Hershel, and how he protects his synagogue and community from the King & Queen of Goblins, who have forbidden the lighting of the Chanukah candles. And if you go during Chanukah you will get a special gift!

Fiddler on the Roof
Runs November 8th-December 31st
Olney Theatre Center, MD. Tickets $35-$101
This classic tale, reimagined, follows Tevye and his family after the Fiddler’s narrative ends. The story still contains all the original songs, like “To Life” and “Sunrise, Sunset” so everyone is expected to sing along! While rated ‘G’ by the Olney Theatre, this might be best suited for older children.

Fun Activities

Chanukah Workshop with Dreidel Making at Home Depot
Sunday, December 3rd, 1:30-2:30 PM
901 Rhode Island Ave NE Washington, DC 20018. Tickets are free-sign up through Eventbrite.
Home Depot will teach kids how to make their very own dreidels, while plying them with chocolate gelt. While the little ones are playing, take a moment to peruse the aisles for your own Chanukah wishlist!

Chanukah Party at Westfield Annapolis Mall
Thursday, December 7th, 5:30 PM
Crate and Barrel Court, 2002 Annapolis Mall Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401. Tickets are free but you must register.
Come for food, a menorah lighting, chanukah crafts for the kids, a magic show, a raffle and more! Hosted by the Chabad of Anne Arundel County.

Chanukah Festival- Old Town Alexandria
Thursday, December 7th, 6:00 PM
The Lyceum: Alexandria’s History Museum 201 South Washington Street Alexandria, VA 22314. Tickets are free but you must register.
Food, music, a menorah lighting- what more could you ask for! This event will be outside. Hosted by the Chabad-Lubavitch of Arlington-Alexandria.

Chanukah Events at the Edlavitch DCJCC
The DCJCC, located at 1529 16th Street NW, DC 20036, will be hosting a variety of programming for Chanukah, including:

Klezmer Brunch with Seth Kiebel & Friends
Sunday, December 3rd, 10:30 AM
Tickets $19/adults, $17/students, discount for members & free for those 7 and under.
Time to dance! Get in the holiday spirit with klezmer renditions of your favorite Chanukah tunes. Starting at 10:30 AM, coffee and bagels from Baked By Yael will be available on site for purchase plus a complimentary mimosa is included in ticket purchase.

JFamily Chanukah Party
Sunday, December 10th, 10:30-11:30 AM 
Tickets are free but require registration.
Geared towards families with kids under 4 years old. Snacks, stories, schmoozing and a performance by Mr. Ari!

Dreidel celebrating at the National Menorah during Chanukah
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

Enjoy Food

Everyone will have the opportunity to get their nosh on this season with a variety of options for food! If you’re not in the mood to peel and shred a mountain of Yukons, here is a comprehensive list of places in the Washington, DC area to order your Chanukah goodies.

Notable mentions:
  • Call Your Mother has raspberry-guava sufganiyot and a deluxe latke platter.
  • Baked by Yael, in addition to its normal offering of one of the best challahs in the region, is making jumbo menorah pops!
  • In the mood for something savory? Silver and Sons BBQ has spicy lamb and beef meatballs, brisket bourekas with gruyere and caramelized onions, smoked brisket in tomato stew and classic potato latkes with apple butter and lemon whipped yogurt. *Just drooled on the computer*

Activities at Home

This year my daughter’s winter break coincides with mine perfectly, which means we’re going to have *a lot* of free time to fill. It also feels like about -2 degrees outside, so there will be plenty of indoor activities until Mother Nature decides to be nice again. The PJ Library has miraculously (pun intended) made a “Chanukah Cheat Sheet” for families, which includes videos, songs, recipes, books and crafts for babies through tweens.

In the age of Google and targeted Instagram ads, it is sometimes easy to forget that Chanukah isn’t just about buying presents. With everything happening in the world right now, I hope the true message and miracle of the holiday reminds everyone that sometimes in the darkest times, all you need is one light.
Happy Chanukah.

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