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.

Kezayit: Tu B'Shevat In A Nutshell

With Tu B'Shevat less than a week away, we're sharing another Kezayit feature here. What's this Kezayit thing? Read here.

This coming Monday, January 25, is Tu B'Shevat (literally translating as "the 15th of Shevat").

Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (in 70 C.E.), Tu B'Shevat was a fiscal and agricultural year turnover, the date on which Israelite farmers calculated what tree and fruit crop tithes they owed the Temple.

Once Jews were living in diaspora, however, the rabbis reconceived Tu B'Shevat as a minor holiday during which Jews recalled and celebrated their ties to the Holy Land. For 1,500 years, Tu B'Shevat was a relative blip on the Jewish holiday calendar. That began to change in the 16th century, when the date became a spiritual locus for Jewish mystics. Rabbi Isaac Luria and his Safed disciples created a Kabbalistic Tu B'Shevat seder that emphasizes spiritual nourishment of the Tree of Life. The language of the seder roughly maps the sephirot, the ten Divine Emanations of G-d according to Kabbalah, as a tree -- roots, trunk, branches, and leaves.

Fast forward another 300 years or so, and Tu B'Shevat was given yet another makeover. The Jewish National Fund began celebrating the holiday as a kind of Israeli Arbor Day, a way to raise public awareness of and international support for their afforestation campaign. Because of this new association, many Jewish Americans would come to think of Tu B'Shevat as a "Jewish Earth Day."

Today, Tu B'Shevat is growing in popular observance, and is flavored with a little bit of mysticism, a little bit of environmentalism, and a lot of nuts, olives, figs, and other tasty treats.

Oh, and apparently the holiday precipitated a rap song and video that's so embarrassing it's almost endearing. Click the screenshot below to subject yourself to three minutes of incredulity and aural vexation. Do it for the trees.

Lead image credit: "South lake view; Angora Lakes Resort; South Lake Tahoe, CA; September 2015," Christopher Orev Reiger