Rabbi Yossi Friedman from Chabad of Alabama lights the Fire and Ice menorah, December 2014 (SJL file)
(These are the events we have currently, the list will be updated as more communities announce their programs.)
Large public Chanukiah lightings continue to proliferate across the South, especially with a Chabad presence in more communities.
Chabad started organizing large public lighting ceremonies in the 1970s in New York, soon spreading them to other communities, often choosing very public locations and involving elected officials.
For the first time, there will be a major public lighting at The Summit in Birmingham, a collaboration of the Bais Ariel Chabad Center and the Levite Jewish Community Center. It will be at Saks Plaza on Dec. 6 at 4:30 p.m. There will be latkes, live music and a living dreidel.
In recent years, Birmingham’s Chabad has done Fire and Ice, lighting an ice sculpture menorah in front of the Chabad Center.
One of the longest-running events in the region is Chanukah at Riverwalk, one of the largest annual gatherings of the New Orleans Jewish community. The 12-foot menorah will be lit at the Dec. 6 event. Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. at Spanish Plaza, with the lighting at 5:30 p.m. There will be a hot latke bar, Chanukah laser light show, dreidel house kids’ activity center, a Kosher Cajun food booth and more. Rain location will be the indoor food court at Riverwalk.
Parking will be available at the Hilton parking lot for $5.
Conversely, in Baton Rouge there will be the first-ever menorah lighting at the front steps of the State Capitol on Dec. 6 at 4:30 p.m. There will be latkes and children’s activities.
In Mobile, the menorah lighting will be part of the city’s “Very Merry Mobile.” The event is scheduled for Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Bienville Square, with Mayor Sandy Stimpson. There will be crafts, food, dreidels, glow-in-the-dark Chanukah shirts and a concert by Chassidic rock singer Dr. Laz.
Chabad of the Emerald Coast will have a Grand Menorah Lighting at the HarborWalk Village stage in Destin, 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. There will be latkes and doughnuts, live music and menorahs for everyone.
Chabad of Huntsville will have its menorah lighting, latkes and doughnuts on Dec. 6 at 4 p.m. at the Bridge Street Town Centre.
Chabad of Southern Mississippi will have the lighting of Mississippi’s largest menorah at Edgewater Mall in Biloxi, in front of the Belk entrance on Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m.
Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl will host the Auburn Hillel and AEPi for a Chanukah celebration at his home, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The event is only for students. Latkes will be provided and students are asked to bring a dessert. There will also be a game of Dirty Dreidel for those who bring a gift under $10.
In Birmingham, the Levite Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth-El, Temple Emanu-El, Knesseth Israel, Chabad and the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School are teaming up for a community-wide 8 Crazy Nights celebrating Chanukah.
Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will have its Sisterhood Latke lunch on Dec. 6 at noon, along with a raffle featuring over 50 prizes. That afternoon, Chabad and the LJCC have their Grand Menorah Lighting at the Summit at 4:30 p.m.
The LJCC will have a Sh’Bamukah workout on Dec. 7 at 6:45 p.m., a Sh’Bam class with a Chanukah twist. The LJCC will also have a Chanukah luncheon at noon on Nov. 8, and an intergenerational candle lighting at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 10.
On Dec. 8, the LJCC will have the final program of its Jewish Book Month celebration, a screening of “The Return: A Documentary About Being Young and Jewish in Poland,” at 6:30 p.m. The free program will be moderated by Sam Dubrinsky.
The annual Chanukah Extravaganza at Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will be on Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. News Anchor Jeff Eliasoph of WVTM-TV will be calling Bingo games. There will be a 50/50 raffle that evening, and tickets will start being sold for a May 12 raffle with a grand prize of $5,000 or a trip for two to Israel. Tickets for the May raffle are $100. The Chanukah event is $18 for adults, $10 ages 4 to 12. Admission includes one Bingo card, additional cards are $5.
The LJCC will have “Chopped/Chanukah Games” on Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. There will be a latke cookoff in the style of Food Network’s “Chopped,” and while the teams compete, individuals can have their own competition in the Chanukah Games. There will be a dinner of latkes, vegetarian chili, salad and dessert. Dinner cost is $10 per person, $35 for a family of four.
The Overton Group and You Belong in Birmingham will have a joint “Evening of Holiday Spirits” upstairs at The Southern, in Uptown, on Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El’s Chanukah celebration will be Dec. 11 at the 5:40 p.m. service. Congregants are encouraged to bring their menorahs. The evening will include the culmination of the Feeling Gelty program, which is held with First Teachers@ Home. Members of the Jewish community can receive a wish list for a family and shop for their Christmas.
The non-profit is a non-traditional organization that teaches low-income parents how to prepare their three- or four-year-old children for success in Kindergarten and beyond. The 16-week course teaches academics and positive parenting, and the books and supplies are free to participants.
Only those who have completed the course will be eligible to be matched in Feeling Gelty.
At the service, the Consecration class will be honored, the Worship Band will perform and it will also be Food Truck Friday.
Emanu-El will also have a Chanukah family fun day on Dec. 13 at 9:30 a.m., with a carnival and Brotherhood luncheon following at noon. The luncheon is $10 for adults, $5 for children.
Chabad of Alabama will have Latkes and L’Chaims on Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., at W XYZ Bar at the Aloft Hotel in Homewood. There will be an open bar, latkes, doughnuts, dairy hors d’oeuvres and more. Admission is $18, or $30 per couple.
On Dec. 13, the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School Kids Club will host a Chanukah PJ Library pillow party at Barnes and Noble at the Summit, at 6 p.m. The program is aimed at ages 3 and 4, with story time and singing.
This year, the Wacky Tacky Christmas Lights Tour in Birmingham returns to the Chanukah House as one of the stops. Buses will run on Dec. 15 and 16, starting at Avondale Brewery.
Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El will have its family Chanukah celebration on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. Emanu-El will supply Leon’s Luscious Latkes, drinks and doughnuts for dessert. Congregants are asked to bring a side dish or a main dish to share, along with family menorahs. Cost is $8 per adult, $4 for children under the age of 10, with reservations requested.
There will be a Menorah Workshop at the Home Depot on South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville on Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. Reservations are needed.
On Dec. 1 there will be a Chanukah Story Hour for children of all ages at Huntsville’s Barnes and Noble in the Bridge Street Town Center, from 4 to 5 p.m.
Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville will have Legos and Latkes, building menorahs for the first night, on Dec. 6 at 5 p.m.
The annual Fry Fest at B’nai Sholom will be on Dec. 11 at 5:45 p.m., with food from Popeye’s Chicken, storytelling and face painting. Entertainment will be provided by retired Huntsville Library storyteller Sara McDaris, who produced “Grunches and Grins” on Alabama Public Television for 19 years.
On Dec. 12 at 6 p.m., the Huntsville community menorah lighting will be at Big Spring Park, at 6 p.m. The B’nai Sholom choir will sing and there will be a dinner following.
On Dec. 9, Chabad of Huntsville is hosting Chanukah Skate, at Odyssey Skate from 5 to 7 p.m. Admission is $8 and includes music, latkes and skating.
Chabad of Huntsville will also have Menorahs and Mojitos, an “adult night of lights,” on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.
Etz Chayim in Huntsville will have its latke party and Bingo on Dec. 13 at 11:30 a.m.
Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will have its Chanukah party on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
Springhill Avenue Temple’s Chanukah dinner will be on Dec. 11 following the 6 p.m. service, with their famous Men’s Club latkes. Reservations are requested by Dec. 4, and are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 10.
Dana Korem, Montgomery’s shlicha from Israel, is hosting “Havdalatkes” on Dec. 5 from 5 to 7 p.m., Havdalah and latke cooking for teens, at her apartment. Those interested should contact the Federation office by Dec. 1 for directions.
Montgomery’s L’Chayim League will have its Chanukah luncheon on Dec. 10 at Mr. G’s. Reservations are $16.
The annual Temple Beth Or Chanukah dinner in Montgomery, coordinated by Sisterhood, follows Shabbat services on Dec. 11. Services will be at 6 p.m. Reservations are due by Dec. 1, and are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 5 to 10. Children 4 and under are free.
The 11th annual Hanukkah Hoopla at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery will be Dec. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be a latke lunch and food bazaar, face painting, entertainment and games. Lunch is free with a purchase of $50 or more in the gift shop and bazaar.
Temple Emanu-El in Tuscaloosa will have a second-night Chanukah party, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Latkes and the trimmings will be supplied for the pot-luck dinner. There is no charge but donations are welcome.
The University of Alabama Hillel will have its Dreidels and Latkes brunch on Dec. 6 at 11:30 a.m.
Chabad at the University of Alabama will hold its first Chanukah party, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. Along with latkes, make your own doughnuts and menorah lighting, a $50 Target gift card will be raffled. There will also be a community Chanukah party on Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Florida Panhandle events
Chabad of the Emerald Coast will hold a Chanukah storytime at Barnes and Noble in Destin on Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m.
Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach will have its family Chanukah night on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Chuck London will tell the story of Chanukah and Michael Walker will lead holiday songs.
The B’nai Israel Chanukah celebration at B’nai Israel in Panama City will be at noon on Dec. 6, led by ISJL Education Fellow Shira Moskowitz with the religious school children performing. Reservations are $5.
There will be a PJ Library Chanukah celebration at the West Florida Public Library on Spring Street in Pensacola, Dec. 6 at 1 p.m.
On Dec. 16, Tal Izhakov will present “How Chanukah is Celebrated in Israel,” at the downtown Pensacola library at 11:30 a.m.
Chabad of the Emerald Coast will hold a Chanukah storytime at Barnes and Noble in Destin on Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m.
Young Jewish Pensacola will have its Chanukah party at the home of Rabbi Joel Fleekop, Dec. 6 at 5:30 p.m.
Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El will have its Chanukah party on Dec. 12 at 6:45 p.m., at the home of Cindy and Terry Gross.
The Chanukah celebration at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will be on Dec. 11 with a 6 p.m. service and latke dinner at 7 p.m. There will be a white elephant gift exchange, with value not to exceed $20. Reservations are due by Dec. 7 and are $8 for adults, $4 for children.
B’nai Israel will also have a latke lunch for the religious school and parents, Dec. 13 at 11:30 a.m.
Chabad of Baton Rouge will have Latkes and Lattes for Young Jewish Professionals, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.
Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburg will be at Temple Sinai in Lake Charles for its Chanukah event, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.
There will be a Chanukah family event at Agudath Achim in Shreveport, sponsored by the North Louisiana Jewish Federation, featuring Billy Jonas in concert. Open to the community, the event starts at 5:45 p.m. with candle lighting and dinner, with the concert at 6:30 p.m. Cost for dinner is $5 for adults, free for ages 13 and under, with reservations requested.
Originally from Chicago, Jonas has lived in Asheville, N.C. for over two decades, where he is active in Temple Beth HaTephila. He performs solo and with the Billy Jonas Band. He is known for making music using “found objects,” discovering music within common items. His album “What Kind of Cat Are You” received a first place/gold award from the American Federation of Independent Musicians and a Parent’s Choice Gold. In 2010 he performed at the White House.
On Nov. 22, his new album, “Habayta (Homeward): New Jewish Songs of Joy and Spirit” was released, with proceeds from the evening’s benefit concert going to Kids4Peace, an interfaith teen leadership camp.
B’nai Zion in Shreveport will have a Chanukah celebration on Dec. 11 at 6:10 p.m., following a 6 p.m. congregational meeting. There is no charge for dinner, which follows the service, but reservations are requested.
The Jewish Community Youth Theatre in Shreveport will present “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins,” Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. at Agudath Achim. Howard Silberman is producing the play, involving the community’s children.
New Orleans Area events
Jewish Children’s Regional Service holds its annual Latkes with a Twist party on Dec. 3 at 8 p.m., at Belloq. Chef Daniel Esses of Three Muses will be in charge of the latke bar, there will be a special vodka latke cocktail for the event, a silent auction and live music by Israeli soul singer Eleanor Tallie. Tickets are $25.
Rabbi Deborah Zecher will join Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville for a Chanukah Seder and Havdalah on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. There will be a potluck dinner, and religious school students will participate with some of the material they had prepared for the cancelled religious school Shabbat that was rained out at the end of October.
The Chabad Jewish Center of Metairie will have a Menorah Workshop on Dec. 7 at Home Depot in Elmwood. The 4 p.m. program includes building a menorah, a menorah lighting and Chanukah treats, and participants receive a Home Depot worker’s apron. There is limited space, so reservations are required.
The Israeli Chanukah party will be at Chabad in Metairie, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
Chabad in Metairie will have a Shabbat Chanukah dinner, Dec. 11, with candle lighting at 4:30 p.m. A Shabbat party for kids starts at 5:10 p.m., Kabbalat Shabbat at 5:15 p.m. and dinner at 5:45 p.m. There will be a latke bar, sufganiyot bar and kids can make their own Chanukah cupcakes. Reservations are $18 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for families by Dec. 7, or $25 for adults and $15 for children after Dec. 7.
The fifth annual Celebrity Chef Latke Cookoff for Young Jewish Professionals will be at Chabad Uptown on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. A wide range of celebrity chefs from New Orleans have competed in previous years.
The Jewish Community Day School’s Chanukah program will be Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.
JNOLA will have its young adult Chanukah celebration, “Light it Up,” Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Purloo. There will be kosher-style hors d’oeuvres, including Southern-style latkes, kosher options and the first drink is free. The evening will also include a clothing drive for Syrian refugees who will be placed in New Orleans in the coming year. Those bringing items get a second drink free.
Gates of Prayer in Metairie will have its Chanukah dinner on Dec. 11 following the 6 p.m. service. Reservations are $10 for adults, $5 for children, through Dec. 9.
Temple Sinai in New Orleans will have its Chanukah Shabbat service and dinner on Dec. 11. Services at 6:15 p.m. will feature the Sinai Puppets. The Chanukah Menorah Lighting on the Avenue will be at 7 p.m., followed by the Sisterhood Latke Dinner at 7:15 p.m. Dinner reservations are $16 for adults, $8 for children, free for children under 5.
Touro Synagogue in New Orleans will have a Chanukah dinner singalong with Cantor Mintz and storytelling with Rabbi Silverman on Dec. 11. There will be a dreidel tournament and sufganiyot bar following the 6 p.m. Shabbat services. Dinner reservations are open to all and are $15 for adults, $10 for children.
Beth Israel in Metairie will have a Chanukah party on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., which will also include a raffle for two courtside seats to the Jan. 6 Pelicans game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Chabad’s Mobile Menorah car parade will be at Chabad Uptown starting at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12. An after-party will be at Chabad following the caravan.
The New Orleans community Chanukah celebration will be on Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Chicago-based a capella sensation Listen Up! will perform.
B’nai Israel in Columbus will have a Chanukah potluck, auction and raffle on Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m.
Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville has its Chanukah lunch on Dec. 13 at 11 a.m., with student performances.
Beth Israel in Gulfport will have its family Chanukah party on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.
At Beth Israel in Jackson, the Men’s Club and Sisterhood will hold their annual Chanukah dinner on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m., with brisket and latkes. Family menorahs are encouraged. Reservations are requested by Nov. 23, $12 for adults and $5 for ages 3 to 10, or pay at the door, $15 for adults and $7 for children.