From the December 2015 issue

Hanukkah Happenings in Southeast Michigan

The Jewish Festival of Lights starts Dec. 6, and metro Detroit has lots of activities to help your family celebrate the holiday. Plus, a neat toy for kids.

December’s first official holiday honors go to the Jewish Festival of Lights, this year spanning Dec. 6-14, 2015. Add these events and toys to your family’s festivities.

Chanukah Wonderland

A dreidel bounce house, doughnut decorating and “Chanukah Tot Town” – it’s all in store, just for kids, at this magical annual four-day event. This year’s new highlights include a Car Menorah Parade before the grand menorah lighting ceremony (starts 5 p.m. Dec. 10). Bring spare change, too.

“We will be building a giant ‘coin-orah,'” adds organizer Rabbi Shneur Silberberg, “which will be a menorah made of wood and glass to be filled with coins, which will be given to charity.” Other activities include T-shirt making, a fry-a-latke station and entertainment – even a giant dreidel mascot ready for photo ops.

  • Address: Orchard Mall, Orchard and Maple roads, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-207-5513
  • Times: 10 a.m.-noon and 3-5:30 p.m. Dec. 9-10 (Wednesday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 11 (Friday), noon-5:30 p.m. Dec. 13 (Sunday)
  • Cost: $5/suggested donation

Menorah in the D

Eat. Celebrate. Smile. These are three easy instructions to follow at this fifth Detroit event, when a giant 26-foot menorah lights in the night sky. First, savor free treats like hot soup, crackers with hummus, roasting marshmallows, sufganiyot (doughnuts) and other kosher goodies. There’s also dancing dreidels and Torahs, pictures with Detroit Tigers mascot Paws, live music, a zip line, horse-and-buggy rides and more family fun. Whatever your cultural or religious background, join in!

  • Address: Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Times: 3-8 p.m. Dec. 6 (Sunday); lighting at 5:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Free
  • Phone: 248-788-4000

Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit

A local staple, the JCC hosts its Hanukkah Family Celebration from 10 a.m. till noon on Dec. 6, complete with candle-lighting ceremony, skits, refreshments, crafts, singing and dancing. Want to explore more? At Shalom Street Museum, also located on the campus, It’s Your Torah to Explore offers just that. “This exhibit provides a fun and interactive way for children to explore the Five Books of Moses,” says Bret Hopman, JCC marketing director. Kids step onto Noah’s Ark, stroll the Garden of Eden and study Jewish law in a child-sized courtroom.

  • Address: 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield
  • Phone: 248-661-1000
  • Times: celebration: 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 6; exhibit: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays now-August (closed holidays)
  • Cost: free

The Mensch on a Bench

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Scoot over, Elf on the Shelf. Here’s his Hanukkah counterpart! Created by dad Neal Hoffman in 2013, this 12-inch plush and his companion book tell the story of Moshe the Mensch, who watched over the Jewish people during Hanukkah; kids help move him each night of the holiday to guard the menorah. Buy the duo for $36, or a new plush singing menorah ($19.99), plush dreidel ($9.99) and chocolate ($2.49), all designed to teach different traditions.

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