Light It Up! Recap

facebook_lightitupThis past Thursday evening, December 14, over 200 members of the CBS community gathered in Koret Hall for Light It Up! : A Hanukkah Celebration. Together, we marked the third night of Hanukkah with a rollicking party. Our Beth Sholom margaritas and burrito bar were hits with the adults, and the many activity stations – face painting, cookie decorating, multiple craft tables, and more – were busy all night!

Light It Up's centerpiece, as always, was our communal candle lighting. Many families and individuals brought their favorite hanukkiot (Hanukkah menorahs) from home and, led by Rabbi Glazer and Jewish songster Jonathan Bayer, recited the Hanukkah blessings as we brightened the evening.

Following the candle lighting, our Troupe de Beth Sholom players performed a Hanukkah play, Miss Menorah & The Maccabees. With a beautiful set (created by Pam Seaman, one of our amazing CBS Family Preschool teachers), a terrific cast of Beth Sholom staff and parents from the community, and a show-stopping, electric sweater, Miss Menorah was a smash. All the children in attendance were riveted, and the parents chuckled and guffawed. After the play, Adam Lowy, a father in our CBS Family Preschool community, hopped on stage with Jonathan Bayer for an energetic, old school rap fest. When Adam encouraged the kids to show him how well they could jump, Light It Up! became a floor-shaking rager.

Todah rabbah (a hearty thank you) to: Rabbi Glazer and Jonathan Bayer for emceeing the evening; all of the Troupe de Beth Sholom players (Katherine Barboni, Ben Chinn, Rabbi Glazer, Kim Hegg, Beth Jones, Dale Kleisley, Vered Levinson, and Dan Rubinsky); Adam Lowy for raising the roof; Jason Jungreis, Adi Barak Marino, Rajeev Chopra, and Veronica Holman for volunteering to bartend; Ashley Polselli, Joan Gelfand, Liza Monge, and Ariel Bronstein for staffing the food tables; Anne Mccomas, Pam Seaman, and Janet Carignani for helping at the dreidel making and the cookie decorating tables; preschool teacher Pam Seaman for creating the impressive Miss Menorah set; Natalia Baba and Veda Gujiral who did all the face painting; and all of the CBS staff and leadership for creating such an amazing party! On the staff front, special thanks is due Executive Chef Jane Sykes for preparing so much delicious food, Operations & Event Manager Kim Hegg for dramatically transforming Koret Hall into a magical, purple-and-blue-bathed space, and CBS Family Preschool Director and Assistant Director Katherine Barboni and Dale Kleisley for doing so much of the heavy-lifting and orchestrating the two main attractions, the play and musical performance. Thank you all so much!

Below, we've posted a selection of photos taken during the celebration. If you missed it, we hope you'll join us next year.

Light It Up! Recap

facebook_lightitupgitta-joelle_lightituphanukkah_december2016Last Thursday evening, members of the CBS community came together in Koret Hall for Light It Up! : A Hanukkah Celebration. Because so many in our community will be traveling during Hanukkah this year (which runs December 24 – January 1), we threw a pre-holiday party. We didn't want to miss the chance to celebrate together!

While the many kids in attendance came for the face painting, cookie decorating, games, music, and dancing, the adults seemed most excited about the latkes, Krispy Kreme sufganiyot, and "adult" beverages. The warmth and energy of Light It Up! was impossible to resist, though, and the evening's entertainment was as much of a treat as the seasonal comfort foods and good drinks.

Following our daily evening minyan service, which took place alongside the happy chaos of the party, Rabbi Glazer introduced the group hanukkiot lighting. Shortly thereafter, up-and-coming Jewish rock stars Talya and the Latkes played two songs for an enthusiastic crowd. Just a few licks into their cover of The Maccabeats' hit "Candlelight," and the dance floor filled. Fans of all ages smiled broadly. Even babies crawled toward the music, pumping their little fists. (Don't believe us? Check out the photographs below!)

Following Talya and the Latkes were father-son DJ duo, Don and Saul Marks, who provided tunes that kept the dance floor hopping for the rest of the party.

Todah rabbah (a hearty thank you) to: Rabbi Glazer for emceeing the evening; Kaleil and Ilan Jacob and Talya Glazer (Talya and the Latkes), and Don and Saul Marks for providing good tunes; Adi Barak, Dov Schnaider, and Lael Sturm for volunteering to bartend; CBS Family Preschool teachers Anne McComas, Bat-el Saad, and Devin Patrick for helping at the dreidel making and the cookie decorating tables; preschool teacher Pam Seaman for making the amazing hanukkiah for our Pin The Flame On The Menorah game; Lowell High School students who did all the face painting; and all of the CBS staff and leadership for creating such a good party! On the staff front, special thanks is due Executive Chef Jane Sykes for preparing from-scratch sweet potato latkes and other delicious eats, Operations & Event Manager Kim Hegg for creatively lighting Koret Hall to transform it into a Hanukkah spectacular, and CBS Family Preschool Assistant Director Dale Kleisley for helping set up so much of the space. Thank you all so much!

Below, we've posted a selection of photos taken during the celebration. If you missed it, we hope you'll join us next year.
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The Dreidel -- Unmasked!

PlayingDreidel_CBSFamilyPreschoolHanukkahLunch_December2015Hanukkah is over. For a few evenings, we'll gaze longingly at the counters, tables, and ledges where our hanukkiot so recently glowed...and then our attention will shift to family debates about which movie and Chinese restaurant is right for Christmas Day. Today, though, we hope to extend your Hanukkah glow for at least a few more minutes!

Along with hanukkiot, latkes, and sufganiyot, visions of dreidels spin through our heads when we think of Hanukkah. Why the association? Chabad's website explains:

"The dreidel, known in Hebrew as a sevivon, dates back to the time of the Greek-Syrian rule over the Holy Land -- which set off the Maccabean revolt that culminated in the [Hanukkah] miracle. Learning Torah was outlawed by the enemy, a 'crime' punishable by death. The Jewish children resorted to hiding in caves in order to study. If a Greek patrol would approach, the children would pull out their tops and pretend to be playing a game. By playing dreidel during Chanukah we are reminded of the courage of those brave children."

That's a familiar story -- it's what we've been told our whole lives. But it's also a myth, and one created long after the days of the Maccabees.

In fact, the dreidel is a variation on an Irish or English top that spread over all of Europe during the late Roman Empire. Known as a teetotum, each of these four-sided tops was inscribed with letters that denoted the result of a given spin. For example, the German version of the game used N (Nichts, or nothing), G (Ganz, or all), H (Halb, or half), and S (Stell ein, or put in).

Dreidels&Gelt_CBSFamilyPreschoolHanukkahLunch_December2015Across Europe, teetotum was most often played around Christmastime; the reason for this seasonal popularity remain unclear but, just like their neighbors, Ashkenazi Jews played the game at this time. Yet Jews adapted the tops' lettering for Yiddish speakers, replacing German letters with Hebrew ones: Nun (Nit, or nothing), Gimel (Gants, or everything), He (Halb, or half), and Shin (Shtel arayn, or put in).

Over generations, as the dreidel game was introduced to far-flung Jewish communities that didn't speak Yiddish, various explanations for the letters' significance were put forth. One of the most famous explications is that the letters represent the four kingdoms that tried to destroy Israelites/Jews: Nun for Nebuchadnezzar, or Babylon; He for Haman, or Persia; Gimel for Gog, or Greece; and Shin for Seir, or Rome. But the most popular story -- probably because it's the only one that explains why the dreidel game is primarily played in the month of Kislev -- posited that the letters stood for the phrase "Nes gadol haya sham," or "A great miracle happened there." That's the Hanukkah miracle, of course, and the accompanying myth about the clever ruse of brave little Torah scholars caught on, too.

Sometime in the 19th or 20th century (CE), this mythic origin of the dreidel game became the officially sanctioned account. It's a compelling, fun story for children, but the real history of the dreidel is no less remarkable.

Indeed, the most marvelous of Hanukkah miracles is an ongoing one: the ability of the Jewish people to adopt the customs and ideas of their neighbors -- just filtered through a Jewish lens. Consider how many of our "traditional" Jewish practices are variations of customs adopted from the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, or Romans. We often toast the fact that those four "evil empires" have fallen while the Jewish people live on -- Am Yisrael Chai! -- but, curiously and counter-intuitively, some facets of those cultures live on in our Jewish traditions.

Culture is a wonderfully complex cholent.

CBS Community Hanukkah Celebration

CandleLighting6_CBSCommunityHanukkahCelebration_December2015Yesterday evening, around 150 members of the CBS community came together in Koret Hall to light hanukkiot and mark the fifth night of Hanukkah.

Of course, a lot of folks came for the latkes, sufganiyot, and wine. Yum!

Special thanks to CBS Executive Chef Jane Sykes for preparing from-scratch sweet potato latkes, cranberry applesauce, and traditional applesauce (and Chef’s Assistant Helen Leibman for cooking all the "regular" latkes), CBS Kashrut Supervisor Debra Surkin Perloff for trekking to Daly City to pick-up the sufganiyot from Krispy Kreme, Rabbi Glazer and Music Director Jonathan Bayer for providing good tunes, and Facilities Manager Jason Zimmerman and his team for managing the audio and setting up all the tables! Thanks, too, to Danielle Hurwitz, Program Director of Camp Ramah in Northern California, who was on hand with an information table and made herself available to answer any questions that parents or prospective campers had about this new and exciting Jewish summer camp.

Below, we've posted a selection of photos taken during the celebration.
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