It’s almost time to sping that dreidel! December 22 is the first night of Chanukah, and we’ve gathered eight ways to celebrate The Festival of Lights in Birmingham. Read on to find out how.
1—Visit the Chanukah House in Forest Park—now-December 31
If you’ve ever hit up the yearly Wacky Tacky Light Tour, you’ve no doubt come across the Chanukah House. If you missed the tour, you can still see it. Just head up Rockford Road near the Altamont School. Hint: it’s the one with the Fiddler on the Roof.
2—Hanukkah Sing Along & Story Time at the LJCC—December 18
This one is sure to be a hit with the five and under crowd, who doesn’t yet know how to spell and doesn’t realize that yes, there are different ways to spell this holiday.
- What: Hanukkah Sing Along & Story Time. Sarah Metzger of Temple Beth-El will be leading festive songs and Miss Tina from the LJCC will read a story. There will be Hanukkah-themed snacks, too, and not just for the kids.
- Where: Levite JCC of Birmingham. 3960 Montclair Rd., Birmingham, AL 35213
- When: Wednesday, December 18, 10-11AM
- Admission: Free. RSVP to Priscilla Denard at Pdenard@bhamjcc.org
3—Hanukkah Cookie Party for Young Jewish Adults in Mountain Brook—December 22
If you’re 22ish-38ish and you like cookies, this one’s for you. You can thank the folks at You Belong in Birmingham.
- What: hanukkah cookie party—bring cookies to swap and enjoy games, s’mores and hot chocolate.
- When: Sunday, December 22, 2PM
- Where: Mountain Brook (email for details)
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org by December 18
4—Grand Menorah Lighting at The Summit—December 22
When I began writing about the Grand Menorah Lighting, I was going to say it’s like a big Birmingham Jewish family reunion. Then I read this story that Liz Brody wrote back in 2017, and she already said that.
So there you go—if there’s anyone in the Jewish community you haven’t had a chance to hug or say hello to in too long, chances are you’ll see them at the Grand Menorah Lighting at The Summit.
- When: Sunday, Dec. 22, 4:30-6PM
- Where: Saks Plaza at The Summit (on the lowest level), 214 Summit Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35243
- What happens when:
- 4:30: latkes, donut wall, stilt walker, balloon artist, bubble show, graffiti mural and Lego dreidels
- 5:15: menorah lighting with Sen. Doug Jones lighting the Shamash (this is the helper candle used to light the remaining candles)
They also drop lots of Chanukah gelt (chocolate coins), so the kids have a great time scrambling to gather all the chocolate they can.
5—Knesseth Israel’s Chanukah Extravaganza 2019 in Mountain Brook—December 24
I’ve taken a look at the menu for this event, and if you’re a fan of Jewish food, you’ll love it. It looks sooo tasty.
- What: Bingo, raffle, latkes & more
- Admission: RSVP with payment by December 18. Adults $18, Children 12 and under $10.
- Reserve your spot
6—Great Wall of Chinakah Kosher Chinese Dinner at Chabad in Mountain Brook—December 25
- What: Great Wall of Chinakah Kosher Chinese Dinner
- Where: Chabad. 3040 Overton Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223
- When: Wednesday, December 25, 5-8PM, menorah lighting at 6PM
- Admission: RSVP before December 20, $20 per adult, $10 per child; RSVP December 21 and after, $30 per adult, $20 per child
- Reserve your spot
7—Menorah kits available at the LJCC and Chabad throughout Chanukah
If Chanukah is your holiday and you find yourself menorah-less this year, both Chabad and the LJCC have menorah kits that they’re giving out at no cost throughout the holiday. In them you’ll find a menorah, candles and cards with the blessings.
8—Eat Latkes and Sufganiyot
During Chanukah, Jews eat lots of foods fried in oil. The tradition among Ashkenazi Jews (most of Birmingham’s Jewish community, with roots in Eastern Europe or Europe) is to eat potato latkes. The tradition in Israel is to eat sufganiyot, or fried jelly donuts. Either way, yum.
If you don’t want everything in your house to smell like fried oil, you can get latkes at Mile End Deli or Trader Joe’s. The more adventuresome among you may want to try making your own. In that case, here’s a favorite recipe a friend gave me years ago. Alternatively, you can buy a boxed mix from Publix which is even easier.
Hero Donuts in Homewood will start making sufganiyot Monday, December 23 through the end of the year, or you can make your own.
For special orders from Hero Donuts, call 205.623.1017 at least a day ahead.