December 19, 2019 – New York, New York, United States – During Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, tens of thousands of people from Jewish communities worldwide will come together to celebrate at numerous holiday events sponsored by JDC, the global Jewish humanitarian organization. From Moldova to Morocco, Jews from emerging, established, and ancient communities will partake in activities including concerts, cooking workshops sharing traditional and new recipes, volunteer opportunities to ensure the needy and elderly can enjoy the holiday, and cultural performances drawing from each community’s unique history and culture.
“There is perhaps no greater way to mark Chanukah, and the ongoing resilience of the Jewish people in the face of challenges like rising anti-Semitism today, than through the proud and diverse holiday activities we help make possible throughout the world. Not only do these events bring communities together in a shared celebration of our ancestor’s victory over forces wishing to eradicate Jewish culture and religion, they offer the warming glow of tradition, family, and hope. This message, of bringing light where there is darkness, and fostering strong Jewish identities and communities for the future, is at the heart of all we do year-round,” said JDC interim CEO Asher Ostrin.
In the former Soviet Union, where JDC’s vast presence includes care for poor Jews and the building of community life, celebrations will include Chanukah parties in Kishinev, Kiev and Tbilisi where community members will light menorahs, play the traditional dreidel game, and participate in holiday themed workshops where teens will get to make their own Chanukah candles. In other parts of the region, community members with disabilities, often on the margins of society, will be included in Chanukah celebrations lighting the menorah and eating a festive meal of latkes and sufganiyot (jelly filled donuts).
In Europe, where JDC has partnered with local Jewish communities since its founding, the revival of Jewish life is on full display. In Poland, dozens of participants will perform a Chanukah play in Hebrew at JDC’s flagship Warsaw JCC, where the local Jewish father’s club with have a Chanukah cooking workshop and its young families club will partake in a Chanukah fair with a chance to build their own menorahs and compete in a dreidel contest, bringing new traditions to the burgeoning Jewish community in a country that was once home to millions of Jews before the Holocaust. In Bosnia, home to one of the oldest Sephardic Jewish communities on the continent, a women’s club will prepare traditional Chanukah desserts like foulares, a pastry made by other communities for Purim, to ensure that local traditions are passed on and that all members of the community can enjoy these timeless treats. Meanwhile, across Romania – in Bucharest, Timisoara, Oradea & Iasi – thriving Jewish communities will come together to hold Chanukah “Shuks” or markets, where members of the community will bring second hand clothes, books, decorations, and other goods to sell to other community members, with the money then donated to charitable causes both inside and outside the Jewish community.
Another highlight of JDC supported Chanukah offerings are a variety of volunteer opportunities to deliver the joy of the holiday to the homes of the elderly, needy, and people with disabilities in their communities. In Morocco, children from ‘Neve Shalom,’ a Jewish day school supported by JDC, are visiting seniors living in their local Old Age home, bringing them small presents including home drawings, Chanukah cards, and sfeni (traditional Moroccan donuts). In Sumy, Ukraine, volunteers from JDC’s network of local volunteer centers powered by a partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, are preparing for their “Holiday in Every Home” project where children will bring holiday gifts to the city’s homebound elderly. In Romania, 700 volunteers are set to visit hundreds of seniors in 35 Jewish communities around the country on the same day, bringing them gift packages with menorahs, candles, and other holiday treats.