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Eight crazy nights: Local Hanukkah activities you can enjoy from afar this year

Illustration of a menorah.
Public in-person Hanukkah celebrations may be canceled this year, but virtual events abound.
(Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

Many of the Southland’s traditional public celebrations of Hanukkah — chocolate gelt drops, shopping-center menorah lightings and the like — might have been canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s no shortage of online activities to mark the holiday, which this year starts the evening of Dec. 10 and ends the evening of Dec. 18.

Make cheese pancakes with Amelia Saltsman

Learn how to make Hanukkah treats in a live-streamed cooking class conducted by Amelia Saltsman, author of “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition,” who will demonstrate how to make sweet and savory cheese pancakes inspired by her Romanian and Iraqi roots. The two one-hour workshops, offered as part of the Skirball Cultural Center’s holiday programming, will take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Pacific on Dec. 13 and cost $15 per household (Skirball members save $5). For ages 5 and up (children must be accompanied by an adult). Find additional information and a link to registration — which closes Dec. 6 — at skirball.org.

A photo of L.A.-based band Mostly Kosher with instruments.
L.A.-based klezmer gypsy-rock group Mostly Kosher will perform as part of the Skirball’s livestreamed Hanukkah celebration on Dec. 13.
(Rick Raasch)

Livestream the Skirball’s Hanukkah Festival

The Skirball’s annual holiday extravaganza, complete with candle-lighting, sing-alongs and the Hanukkah story told via a puppetry performance, premieres on YouTube this year at 3 p.m. Pacific time on Dec. 13. Entertainment on tap includes L.A.-based klezmer gypsy-rock band Mostly Kosher and funk psychedelic jazz Israeli superstar Gili Yalo. For those who can’t watch in real time, a video will be available on YouTube afterward. For those who can tune in early, there’s a preshow hannukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) show-and-tell at 2:30 p.m. that will feature members of the Skirball community and an exploration of the museum’s hanukkiot collection. Registration for both is free. An RSVP by noon Dec. 11 is recommended for the main event and is needed to receive a Zoom link to the show-and-tell. Additional information and RSVP links are available at skirball.org.

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Performer Shelley Fisher standing against a brick wall
Shelley Fisher will livestream her one-woman show on Dec. 17 — the second-to-last night of Hanukkah — to benefit the Santa Monica Playhouse.
(Santa Monica Playhouse)

Hang out with the Hebrew Hillbilly

Shelley Fisher (a.k.a. the Hebrew Hillbilly) brings her autobiographical one-woman (make that one-diva) show about a Southern Jewish girl with rock ’n’ roll aspirations back to the virtual outpost of the Santa Monica Playhouse (where she live-streamed a performance in September) to celebrate the penultimate night of Hanukkah and raise funds for the Keep Our Doors Open Santa Monica Playhouse benefit campaign. The show is from 6 to 7:30 p.m Dec. 17 and is $30 per household. Tickets to the Hebrew Hillbilly Livestreaming a Joyous Hanukkah Benefit for Santa Monica Playhouse are available online at santamonicaplayhouse.com.

Welcome to our comprehensive gift guide for the 2020 holiday season.

Catch a public menorah lighting

The Original Farmers Market at the corner of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue will have a Hanukkah menorah on display in the plaza in front of the El Granjero Cantina barricades starting Dec. 5. It will be lighted nightly at sunset by Farmers Market staff starting Dec. 10. 6333 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles.

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Attend a (virtual) international live gala

Pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs traditionally holds its Festival of Lights gala, which raises funds to combat anti-Semitism, at the Beverly Hilton, drawing in the neighborhood of 1,000 attendees. While this year’s event may be virtual, the entertainment value is 100% real. On tap for the Dec. 13 gala are keynote speaker Elan Carr, comedian and actor Elon Gold and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons. Joshua Washington and the Hebrew Project will premiere the song “Oh Jerusalem.” Free at StandWithUs.TV, but registration is required at standwithus.com/fol. Stand With Us Festival of Lights International Live Virtual Gala, 5 p.m. Pacific Dec. 13.

Check in to eight nights of online activities

Shalom Institute, a Malibu retreat, education and community center, and its youth program, Camp JCA Shalom, have organized an octet of online activities that will give housebound kids something fun to do every evening of Hanukkah. Each livestreamed night will start with a candle lighting followed by a short activity such as crafting clay dreidels, cooking latkes (sweet one night, savory another), Hanukkah songs and a sing-along with Robb “Robbo” Zelonky. Additional information will be available Dec. 7 at the Facebook pages of Camp JCA Shalom and the Shalom Institute, where the programs will be accessible each night free of charge via Facebook Live. Shalom Institute and Camp JCA Shalom Hanukkah Week programming, 5 p.m. nightly Dec. 10-17.

Drive through a light show

What’s being billed as Los Angeles’ first premium Hanukkah drive-through event will take place Dec. 8 through 20 at Stephen Wise Temple from 5 p.m. to 9:20 p.m. The 30-minute contactless, car-based sound and light experience includes a dancing dreidel light show, infinity mirror corridors and projection tunnels featuring 200-foot-long video screens. A fireworks finale and the world premiere of an animated short film called “The Broken Candle” about a broken Hanukkah candle that becomes the shamash (the “lead candle” of the hanukkiah) on the last night of the holiday. Tickets for the 30-minute LIT: A Drive-Thru Hanukkah Experience cost $50 per car (eight people maximum) for Dec. 8 and 9 and $75 for Dec. 10 through 20 and are available at lithanukkah.com. Stephen Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles.

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Play kid detective around the house

A 45-minute interactive virtual family Hanukkah show geared toward the 6- to 12-year-old crowd performed by live actors via Zoom will have your young detective searching the house for clues to crack a secret code. Tickets for Kids on Stage Production’s “The Temple & the Secret Code” are $15 per child with multiple show times each day Dec. 5, 6 and 10 through 18. Additional information and tickets available at kidsonstageproductions.com/hanukkahshow.

Updates:

9:58 AM, Dec. 02, 2020: This story was updated to include additional events.


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