Temple Sinai Hosts Hands On Hanukkah Celebration

The Giving Coast

Pictured: Temple Sinai teens, Ella Collier, Alix Leinbweber and Madeline Gersh at the 2022 Hands On Hanukkah Celebration. Photo courtesy of Temple Sinai.

Hanukkah is a whole latke fun in our community as Temple Sinai hosts its annual Hands On Hanukkah Celebration at four different locations. These free programs are open to the community and will feature a variety of performances, arts and crafts, raffles, giveaways, and holiday food as well as traditional menorah lightings.

Bethany Leinweber, Director of Youth Education Programming and Family Engagement and Student Rabbi, says "Hands On Hanukkah has become a beautiful way to engage not only the Jewish community but the entire Sarasota-Manatee community in the lights of Hanukkah. We partner with non-Jewish organizations to come together as one community to share in the holiday celebration, educate, and spread kindness, tolerance, and acceptance of our differences.”

Leinweber started the Hands On Hanukkah celebration three years ago when she noticed the abundance of beautiful Christmas decorations around town. “I love Christmas. I love the joy and the lights but Hanukkah is all about joy and lights as well. I thought it was important to share this joy in our town publicly, allowing people to see us and feel the warmth of Hanukkah and the celebration of lights through a different holiday,” she says. “When we go out in public, we're educating people about Hanukkah and all the different rituals and traditions and we're coming together as one. It’s really incredible.”

When you come to a Hands On Hanukkah program, you can taste foods like potato latkes, play dreidel which is a game that reinforces the story of Hanukkah, hear songs, see entertaining performances and then light the candle together as a community. “We often have someone from the community helping us light the candles. Sometimes they’re Jewish and sometimes not,” shares Leinweber. “We've had the mayor, representatives from Embracing Our Differences, and a variety of people light the candles and say the prayers. We are coming together in public spaces and celebrating just the same way that the rest of our community does with other holidays.”

One higlight of this year's celebration includes a program with internationally known disability and mental health advocate and professional stand-up comedian, Pamela Schuller. “Pamela Schuler is hilarious but also a very serious comedian who has Tourette syndrome. She talks about it and makes light of it,” says Leinweber. “She's found a beautiful way of making people aware of accepting differences and also being able to laugh at some of our struggles and challenges. She makes it really clear how important it is to love each other.”

The complete schedule of events is as follows: Wednesday, December 6, Gulf Gate Library, 5:30PM - 7:00PM (registration required); Sunday, December 10, The Mall at University Town Center (in front of Macy’s), 4:00PM - 6:00PM, performance by The Players Studio; Wednesday, December 13, Venice Centennial Park, 4:00PM - 6:00PM, performance by Laurel Nokomis School and Venice High School Orchestra ; Friday, December 15, Temple Sinai, 6:00PM - 9:00PM, dinner (registration required), Shabbat service and program with Pamela Schuller. Hands On Hanukkah is sponsored by Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Laurel Nokomis School, PJ Library of Sarasota-Manatee, Robert Toale & Sons, SVN Commercial Partners, The Mall at University Town Center, The Players Studio, The Sarasota Dental Group, and Venice High School.

Pictured: Temple Sinai teens, Ella Collier, Alix Leinbweber and Madeline Gersh at the 2022 Hands On Hanukkah Celebration. Photo courtesy of Temple Sinai.

To learn more and to register for the events, click here.

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