Celebrating Hanukkah at WJCS

Published Thursday, December 10, 2020

Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is here. This is a time when programming coordinators in the WJCS Jewish Programs division would normally be in the throes of planning numerous in-person events. Instead, as we have done since the Covid pandemic began, we have pivoted to offering virtual events. 

Our annual Hanukkah celebration for members of our Holocaust Survivor Groups and their families is typically a time to come together to eat, dance, sing, and celebrate This year, we will be celebrating on Zoom. In addition, the Holocaust Survivors in our program will be receiving a gift bag filled with kosher holiday refreshments. While the gifts cannot replace the joy of coming together, they do diminish the sense of isolation and aloneness. As one Survivor said after receiving holiday food packages from WJCS for Passover and Rosh Hashanah, “The food is nice and delicious. But it’s more than just the food. It’s knowing that I am not forgotten.”  

In past years, Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) hosted our Hanukkah celebration for Havorah, a WJCS program for individuals with disabilities. The Hanukkah program is a celebration filled with songs, fun, and engagement between our Havorah community, clergy, and the teens at WRT, for whom this is part of their curriculum for confirmation class. While we cannot have a group gathering this year, WRT is planning to have its teens create a video of songs and skits that we can distribute to the groups that generally attend the Havorah program.

Members of the WJCS Shelanu program, a friendship community for young Jewish adults ages 18-35 with disabilities, are playing Hanukkah Bingo this year...virtually. Words like Chanukah, Menorah, Dreidel, Shamas replace Bingo numbers.

The WJCS Jewish Healing Spiritual Center will be offering a Hanukkah bereavement program on December 16 from 5:30-7 pm. The program, called Bringing Light into the Darkness: A Chanukah Bereavement Program, focuses on the healing potential of Hanukkah. It is for individuals who has experienced any kind of loss and are at any stage of the grieving process. The program will be facilitated by Gillian Rittmaster, LMSW, Director of Health and Healing Services, and Rabbi Pamela Wax, WJCS Spiritual Care Coordinator.

As Halina Rosenkranz, WJCS Holocaust Program Facilitator, says, "may another Hanukkah miracle come forth as we leave this year behind and enter 2021."

Contacts for the above programs are: 

Holocaust Survivor Groups: Halina Rosenkranz [email protected]

Havorah program: Barbara L. Murray [email protected]

Shelanu community: Robin Davies-Small [email protected]

Bereavement program: Gillian Rittmaster [email protected] and Rabbi Pamela Wax [email protected] 

Back to top