As a way to connect Jews during the pandemic’s second wave, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will unite on Facebook with different Jewish communities worldwide through a Hanukkah candle-lighting video each night of the holiday at 5 p.m. EST. The holiday begins on the night of Dec. 10. The videos, which will be posted on JDC’s Facebook page, will include participants from Cuba, Hungary, India, Israel, Morocco, Russia, and Ukraine. JDC also creates and supports scores of overseas Hanukkah activities with thousands joining virtual programming including menorah-lightings, concerts, cooking workshops, and educational sessions as well as volunteer opportunities ensuring the most vulnerable enjoy the holiday even in isolation.
“In this year of terrible loss, we need to seize Hanukkah’s message of spreading light and hope amidst the darkness. JDC proudly does this by aiding Jews, Jewish communities, and Israelis hard-hit by the pandemic and by keeping Jewish life thriving on new virtual platforms. By connecting Jewish communities around the world to celebrate Hanukkah and the miracles we make happen every day, we hope to inspire countless miracle-makers to engage in similar acts safeguarding humanity, inspiring Jewish identity, and building a better tomorrow,” said JDC President Mark Sisisky and JDC interim CEO Darrell Friedman.
JDC global Hanukkah programming draws from emerging, established, and ancient Jewish communities, including:
Across the former Soviet Union – where JDC’s wide-ranging operation includes social services for the poor and elderly as well as building Jewish life – Jewish community celebrations will be accompanied by the work of Jewish volunteers ensuring the vulnerable, including the isolated, can still celebrate the holiday.
- In Odessa, Ukraine participants in JDC’s Active Jewish Teens program will deliver holiday sets – including candles, menorahs, and holiday treats – to hundreds of elderly and local families. AJT is powered by a founding partnership with BBYO and partnerships with Genesis Philanthropy Group and other supporters.
- In Minsk, Belarus a local volunteer artist will conduct a ZOOM class for seniors who are cared for by the JDC Hesed social service center to paint Hanukkah-themed postcard to share with thousands of elderly in their community as well as elderly Jews from Mogilev and Grodno.
In Europe, where JDC has partnered with local Jewish communities since its founding, virtual community Hanukkah celebrations will happen in Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, and Latvia. Additionally:
- In Poland, the flagship Warsaw JCC will hold a series of culinary workshops where members and friends will learn how to make sufganiyot (Hanukkah doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes), both traditionally made on the holiday.
- In Hungary, the JDC-founded JCC Budapest will release a variety of online holiday-related content – videos, games, recipes, and educational materials – for use by the Jewish public, especially those who are just learning about Judaism, to celebrate the holiday in new and innovative ways. To reinforce this content, they will also be streaming Hanukkah candle lightings, educational programs, and will invite different members of the community to light a candle each day.
- In Bucharest, Romania and Sofia, Bulgaria, Jewish community volunteers will prepare and deliver holiday packages containing holiday fare and candle-lighting kits to children and elderly.
In India, the Mumbai Jewish community will host its 24th annual Khai Fest, a Hanukkah program that this year will be offered online. Hundreds of participants will be treated to Hanukkah traditions, candle-lighting, and performances by local community members. Simultaneously, the community will continue its yearly Hanukkah fundraising effort. Proceeds from this initiative benefit the local Bayiti Jewish home for the elderly as well as Jewish education and youth leadership programs.
JDC Entwine– JDC’s platform for young professionals, with myriad overseas service and educational programs – will celebrate the diversity of global Jewish life with Hanukkah programming focused on customs and leaders representing that mosaic. Entwine and its partners at OneTable will present events on Indian Jews: one with the local community in Mumbai and the other with renowned food writer Shulie Madnick, who’s written extensively about her Indian Jewish roots. They will partner with Rishon Global, an incubator for young Jewish spiritual entrepreneurs, to showcase inspiring Jewish changemakers from Brussels, Kyiv, and New York. Additionally, Entwine will host a global tasting of fried Hanukkah pastries, including Morocco’s sfenj and Israel’s sufganiyot, with Shoshana Gottlieb from @JewishMemesOnly, while exploring Hanukkah traditions from around the world.
The JDC is an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.