Rather than fill the gym with activities for an afternoon affair, the Stroum Jewish Community Center this year has moved its annual community-wide Hanukkah celebration to Saturday night and turned it into a real party.
“We decided to change it up,” says Heidi Turner, the JCC’s membership and marketing director. “With Hanukkah so late, we decided to try to do something before so a lot of the families that go out of town can participate.”
“Hanukkah Under the Stars” will feature local kids’ band The Not-Its as the main attraction, and the upstart The Sababas, nice Jewish boys Ben Gown and Josh Niehaus gone silly, will open with their biblical puppets and multiple musical instruments.
But before the lights go down and get all funky, the kids can enjoy a PJ Library storytime and a Havdalah service, as well as “a bunch of bouncy balls if kids want to get their yayas out,” Turner said.
The Hanukkah candle lighting, of course, will have to wait a few days.
In addition, the kids will have art booths available to make things like edible dreidels. The JCC will have giveaways and prizes as well.
And then there’s the food. Food will be inexpensive — dinner and a soft drink for about $6 — and supplied by several different chefs. The Chinese food and the pizza will be kosher. The latkes and lots of other Jewish-style foods will come from Stopsky’s, the new delicatessen on Mercer Island. For dessert? What else? Doughnuts.
For families who want to get out of the noise, Turner said they would set up a quiet room with books and toys.
Entry is free — but only if you bring a bottle of oil for the Jewish Family Service food bank. RSVP online at www.sjcc.org. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 17 and goes until 7:30. “Hanukkah Under the Stars” takes place at the Stroum JCC, 3801 E Mercer Way on Mercer Island.
You can have a few hours to recover for Sunday’s big event, The Big Spin, which returns this year with a new format and new entertainment.
The third annual Hanukkah event, which raises money for the Mitzvah Mamas Guild at Seattle Children’s Hospital, is taking over the Showbox Sodo to be bigger, flashier, and all music all the time.
DJ’d by KEXP’s Derek Mazzone, it will take the form of Baby Loves Disco, a family dance party that Big Spin co-founder and organizer Laura Glass used to run.
“If I was going to do it ever again, it would be great to do it for Children’s,” Glass says.
And yes, there will be plenty of Hanukkah music on the dance floor.
Like the JCC party, the Big Spin will have a chill-out room with pillows, tents, books, toys, and a nursing space set up by high-end children’s store Tottini.
Some of the stuff that the kids enjoyed in previous years — the face painting, the Jewish Day School’s candy menorah station, a new variation on the photo booth — will return. A separate guild run by Glass’s daughter Sophie, which makes bracelets each month to give to girls staying at Children’s, will have a booth as well.
Stopsky’s will be serving pastrami sliders, grilled cheese, cookies and more. Cupcake Royale, which has participated since the Big Spin began, returns with trays full of minis.
“People will not want for food, that’s for sure,” says Glass.
The big money for the hospital comes from the big dreidel, and that comes back as well. There will be plenty of prizes for everyone who antes up to make a spin, from vacations to electronics.
Kids from toddler to early teens should find something fun to do during the afternoon, as will their parents. There’s more capacity this year, and a few tickets will be available at the door. If you register at any Cupcake Royale location, you can avoid the online service charges, but the first 75 families to register online get a gift bag with lots of goodies, so you’ll have to act fast. The Big Spin takes place on Sun., Dec. 18 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Showbox Sodo, 1700 First Ave. S, Seattle. Entry costs $36 adults/$24 kids at
thebigspin2011.eventbrite.com. More information at www.thebigspin.org.
Everyone loves a carnival, right? Right? You know the kind — music, bouncy houses, arts and crafts, games, junk food. You know you want the food. Which is why you should show up at the Northwest Yeshiva High School Hanukkah Kids’ Carnival this Sunday, Dec. 11, for their second annual party and brunch.
The organizers promise lots of kosher food and different kinds of Judaica at the craft fair, including hand-made Hanukkah candles to benefit the 8th grade’s Israel trip. Local musician Michael Bilavsky will provide the entertainment. The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at NYHS, 5017 90th Ave. SE on Mercer Island. Entry costs $7 per person or $20 for the whole family. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re looking for a rip-roaring good time and you happen to be in Bellingham on the 17th, head on over to the Rotunda Room at the old city hall. That’s where you’ll find this old railroad town’s resident Klezmer group, What the Chelm?, blowing off the roof and frying things up with an afternoon Hanukkah show that will send La Niña back to where she belongs.
The old city hall is located at 121 Prospect St., and it’s free for museum members, $3 for non-members. Bring your dancing shoes!
On the second night of Hanukkah, head over to the University Village candle lighting for an event that’s not only fun, but rare: A collaboration between a Reform temple and Chabad. But that’s what happens each year at this outdoor mall, which for many years has hosted the candle lighting on Chabad’s giant menorah while Temple Beth Am’s Klez Kids musical group sings and performs. The festivities start at 6 p.m. on the plaza between Boom Noodle and Barnes and Noble.
If you’re a part of the JLGBTQ community (everybody always wonders what the ‘J’ stands for), once the U-Village event ends, you should hightail it up to the Lobby Bar on Capitol Hill for the annual “Light the Night” celebration. This celebration honors eight members — one for each candle, of course — of the local Jewish gay/lesbian/transgender community who have worked to improve the lives of their community members and the larger community as well. Entry’s free, as are the snacks, but you’ll have to buy your own drinks. Sponsored by Jconnect with Jewish Family Service, Congregation Tikvah Chadashah, and a number of LGBTQ organizations. Despite Light the Night being a Jconnect program, it is open to adults of all ages. The Lobby Bar is at 916 E Pike St. in Seattle. Contact Josh Furman at email@example.com for more details.
For this next event, get a sitter and leave the kids at home. The year is zero. Well, you know, right around when zero would be since the people who were counting down the years until when Jesus would be born weren’t so adept at their timekeeping. Anyway, Mary’s pregnant. And Joseph’s mad because, despite what he’s told the boys in the locker room, he and that crazy nymphomaniac haven’t actually, ahem, done the deed. So he knows he is not the father, and he wants to know who is.
To get to the bottom of this immaculate deception, he calls upon three wise men. Who he gets instead are the Wisemen Law offices, run by litigious Brooklyn attorneys Goldberg, Frankenstein, and Murray.
And that launches Wisemen, a revisionist history of the story of Christmas by local actors and musicians Eli Rosenblatt and David Bestock. These two nice Jewish boys, whose theatrical collaborations began at a Passover seder when they were 8 years old, are trying to get the Jewish community to show up for a story about Jesus?
“The show is actually not about Jesus,” says Rosenblatt, who also wrote the musical accompaniments. “It’s about Jews. And Jesus is just a baby.”
If this seems a little off-kilter, well, that’s kind of the point.
“We’re sort of taking this tale, this Christmas tale, which makes just as much sense,” Rosenblatt says, and making it “more or equally absurd in another direction.”
Given that it is, almost, the story of Christmas, of course there needs to be an appearance by Santa Claus — gangsta Santa Claus, that is. The Easter Bunny makes a cameo appearance — doing hip-hop, naturally — as does the pope.
“Everything’s so familiar, but it’s cocked at a 32-degree angle,” Rosenblatt says. “You laugh really hard, but it bends your mind a little bit.”
Wisemen will take the stage Dec. 13–15 and 20–22 at 8 p.m. at the ACT Theatre’s Bullitt Cabaret space, 700 Union St., Seattle. Tickets cost $15/$18 at the door and are available at www.acttheatre.org.
And while this last event isn’t really Hanukkah related, who wouldn’t want to find tickets under their pillow for the ACT Theatre? Especially one where you can bring the kids. Granted, the show just started and it ends before Hanukkah begins, but that doesn’t matter. The theater brought 13 back because audiences loved the story of Evan Goldman, the boy who has it all. Until he doesn’t.
After his parents divorce, Evan and his mom move from the center of the world, New York City, to Indiana farm country. In the meantime, he’s got to get ready for his Bar Mitzvah. And make new friends. But he only wants the popular kids to come to the Bar Mitzvah party. You can probably see where this is going and the lessons Evan learns.
13 launched in 2007 and was the first Broadway production to feature an all-teenaged cast. The cast of local middle and high school students (including Adam Westerman, the son of our own columnist Marty Westerman, as the lead), which also staged this production last summer, returns for 10 performances between Dec. 8 and 18. Visit www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/13TheMusical for tickets and showtimes.
Finally, of course, there’s your own local synagogue. So many congregations throughout the state are holding their own festivals. Most don’t expect you to be a member to participate and it’s always a great way to meet people or see folks you haven’t run into in a while. Visit your neighborhood synagogue’s website or check out their bulletin for dates and times.