(RNS) From an ice-skating soiree in New York to a comedy night in Los Angeles, here are eight of our favorite fetes to celebrate Hanukkah, which begins at sundown Sunday (Dec. 6).
The holiday commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem temple in 167 B.C.E. and the miracle of the tiny vial of oil that burned for eight nights.
And though Hanukkah lasts for eight days, America apparently needs far more time to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights. Some great Hanukkah parties fall before the holiday; another kicks off on Christmas Eve, nearly two weeks after the holiday officially ends.
So light your menorah and gobble up the latkes (potato pancakes) and other fried and oily foods. And if you know of a public Hanukkah party you would like to add to the list, please tell us about it in the comments section below:
1. Chanukah on Ice — Monday, Dec. 7, New York City
Skate to jazzy and traditional live Jewish music and watch the lighting of the giant ice menorah at Central Park’s Wollman Rink. Sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch.
2. Brothers Lazaroff Hanukkah Hullabaloo — Saturday, Dec. 5, St. Louis
Songwriters David and Jeff Lazaroff are joined by their five-piece Americana band for this fifth annual fundraiser for a senior center. The event features a DJ, a poetry-reading rabbi, beer and free kosher latkes.
3. Jokes for Jews — Thursday, Dec. 24, Los Angeles
A Burbank comedy club hosts a belated Hanukkah party on Christmas Eve with a lineup of Jewish and non-Jewish comedians and the “finest assortment of ‘nosh’ this side of Mt. Sinai.”
4. Latkes with a Twist — Thursday, Dec. 3, New Orleans
This second annual communitywide celebration features Israeli soul singer Eleanor Tallie and chef Daniel Esses dishing out gourmet latkes. Sponsored by Jewish Children’s Regional Service.
5. Bill Graham Menorah Day — Sunday, Dec. 6, San Francisco
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the lighting of the Bill Graham menorah in the city’s historic Union Square. Graham, the rock concert promoter and Holocaust survivor, built the 25-foot-tall menorah, the first big public menorah lighting outside Israel. Expect dancing in the street. Sponsored by Chabad-Lubavitch.
6. Donuts & Dreidels Chanukah Festival — Sunday, Dec. 6, Miami Beach
The 18th annual festival will include rides, carnival games, a shopping bazaar, a basketball tournament and menorah lighting and is sponsored by the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center.
7. Chanukah in the City — Sunday, Dec. 6, Boston
Young families gather in the Back Bay neighborhood to light the menorah and boogie to the kid-friendly music of Karen K & the Jitterbugs. Sponsored by Combined Jewish Philanthropies and other organizations.
8. LatkeFest — Sunday, Dec. 13, Chicago
Gather in the West Rogers Park neighborhood for a latke bar, Hanukkah singalong, magic show and sufganyiot (jelly-filled donuts fried in oil). Sponsored by the Chicago Jewish Community Center and other organizations.
(Lauren Markoe is national correspondent for RNS covering Judaism.)