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Jewish congregation builds toward end of Hanukkah

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 | Posted by

Members of Congregation Shomrei Torah during last year’s Hanukkah celebrations. (Courtesy of Rabbi Stephanie Kramer)

By MELODY KARPINSKI / Santa Rosa Correspondent

Hanukkah began Saturday night, and the members of Congregation Shomrei Torah are busy preparing for the final evening of the eight-day celebration.

“We’ll be hosting a ‘Night of Lights’ Hanukkah celebration on Saturday evening,” said Rabbi Stephanie Kramer, assistant rabbi at Shomrei Torah and organizer of the 2012 Hanukkah proceedings. “It’ll be at our congregation, but it’s really open to the broader Jewish community.”

Hanukkah remembers the victory of the Jews over the Syrian Greeks in 164 B.C. “Though traditionally a minor holiday, Hanukkah has become one of the paradigmatic Jewish holidays,” said Kramer. “It’s celebrated by lighting a  menorah for eight days, eating latkes (potato pancakes) and suvganout (jelly-filled donuts), and playing dreidel (spinning top).”

The “Night of Lights” will include a vegetarian potluck meal, storytelling, YouTube videos, activities for the kids and a menorah lighting. The congregation is also promoting donations to the organization Heifer International, which provides animals such as cows, goats and chickens to families in need across the world.

“We’re calling it ‘Heifers for Hanukkah,”’ said Kramer. “We’re really looking to help people around the world. In Hebrew we call it Tikkun Olam, which means ‘repairing the world.'”

Along with “Heifers for Hannukkah,” the congregation is also hosting a toy drive and collecting warm clothes for those in need.

The Night of Lights Hanukkah Celebration starts at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Congregation Shomrei Torah, 2600 Bennett Valley Road.  The evening begins with a brief Havdalah service, followed by a dairy/vegetarian potluck dinner, music and singing, activities for kids and the lighting of menorahs.

Bring some food to share, your favorite menorah, a friend or two and an appetite for fun. It’s free, open to members and nonmembers. Info: 578-5519, shomreitorah.org.

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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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