Join with your community this holiday as we spread the light of Chanukah and rejoice in the miracles around us, large and small.
Community Menorah Lighting
This year our celebration of Chanukah takes place against the backdrop of shmita, the final year of a seven-year agricultural cycle foretold in ancient Jewish texts. Shmita was a time for rest and restoration, during which our biblical texts mandated that the earth lie fallow. It was also a time for healing and liberation. In our times, shmita is an opportunity to pause and reset, and a reminder of our role as stewards of creation and champions of justice.
This year, Central Synagogue is collecting and sharing visions of reflection, hope, and restoration for our city, country, and world. We are asking luminaries, activists, communal leaders, and educators to reimagine their work in the light of the Chanukah candles and provide a vision for justice going forward.
Central in Action invites you to join us each night of Chanukah from 6:00–6:20 pm for this special candle-lighting to celebrate together as a community through song, prayer, and words of hope. Central members should check their inbox for the Zoom registration link (Email titled: Celebrate eight days of joy with us this Chanukah). The public may stream the programs each night via Facebook Live.
Here's our stellar lineup:
- Sunday, November 28: Rachel Fish, Scholar Warrior
- Monday, November 29: Kendell Pinkney, Rabbinical student at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York
- Tuesday, November 30: Orly Erez-Likhovski, Director of IRAC (Israel Religious Action Center) (Recording in advance)
- Wednesday, December 1: Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Directors of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
- Thursday, December 2: Karen Freedman, Founder and Executive Director of Lawyers for Children
- Friday, December 3: Shabbat Community Lighting
- Saturday, December 4: (In person for Central Members only. The public may also watch the program via livestream on our Facebook and YouTube page, or JBS) Rabbi Angela Buchdahl and Cantor Dan Mutlu with the World Union for Progressive Judaism in the Sanctuary. Note: this special program will begin at 8:00 pm ET.
- Sunday, December 5: Darren Mack, Co-Director of Freedom Agenda
Share Your Miracles Using #JoyIsCentral
Help us light up our Instagram page this holiday! As you find joy, inspiration, and miracles happening in your lives this Chanukah, snap a picture, post on social media, and use the hashtag #JoyIsCentral and tag us at @CentralSynagogue, to be featured in our stories.
We also hope you'll use our Chanukah-themed Zoom virtual backgrounds to help you get in the spirit of the Festival of Lights no matter how far away you might be. Our festive backgrounds will make you feel more connected to family and friends with every virtual celebration you have. Simply choose your favorite design below, save the file to your computer, and upload it as your background on Zoom (Instructions: Changing your Virtual Background image – Zoom Help Center)
Events and Opportunities
Holiday Boot Camp: Not Your Grandparents' Chanukah Story
Thursday, November 18, 5:30–6:30 pm
Join Jewish historian Dr. Laura Shaw Frank in conversation with journalist Abby Pogrebin about the true story of Chanukah, and how it can change, challenge, and deepen our holiday experience this year.
Batman & Beat'achon: Jewish Storytelling From Superheroes To Song
Thursday, December 2, 7:30–8:30 pm
Batman Editor Jordan B. Gorfinkle's secret identity is creating Jewish a capella. In this entertaining and insightful presentation about his journeys as a storyteller, he reveals his own superpower: embracing his Judaism.
A Taste of Chanukah
(VIRTUAL) Wednesday, December 1, 7:30–8:30 pm
The crackle and fizz of latkes frying, the sweet tang of jelly oozing from a sufganiya, the rich smell of hot oil—the foods of Chanukah appeal to every one of our senses. Join Rabbi Ari Lorge and Annie Polland (Director of the Tenement Museum) for a talk that celebrates the foods as well as the history of Chanukah, from the Lower East Side a century ago to our New York of today.
Chanukah Toy Drive
Starting the Monday of Chanukah, November 29.
Bring a toy for our annual Toy Drive for CUCS and their residents in transitional housing. We will be collecting toys in Lese Lobby. Please bring only new unwrapped toys. Alternatively, you can drop toys off with security care of Amy Martin, Family Engagement Director.
Many Candles, One World: A Story of Resilience and Hope Around the World
(VIRTUAL) Saturday, December 4, 8:00 pm
Join Central and the World Union for Progressive Judaism for a virtual Chanukah celebration with music and traditions from around the world. The event will showcase acclaimed choirs, cantors, and special celebrity guests. The public may livestream the program on our Facebook and YouTube page, or JBS.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
Blessing 3 (first night only):
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.