Chanukah Live! — multimedia Shabbat service and Chanukah candle lighting

Chanukah is a time of celebration and giving at Congregation Shir Ami, a Reform Jewish congregation in downtown Greenwich serving Lower Fairfield and Westchester Counties. Open to the entire community, Chanukah Live! is a multimedia Shabbat service and Chanukah candle lighting, Friday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Greenwich. A fun party for the whole family, Chanukah Live! merges old-world charm with contemporary pop-culture. “All the prayers and songs appear on a large screen,” explains Rabbi Vicki L. Axe, spiritual leader of the congregation, “so everyone’s hands are free to join in with clapping and singing and dancing.”

Following a gourmet pot luck dinner with latkes donated by Garelick & Herbs, the Shir Ami Rockin’ Band and Choirs will lead a foot-stompin’ Shabbat service and Chanukah candle lighting with traditional tunes loved by generations world-wide along with contemporary songs like “Light One Candle” by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary, and “Let it Glow” (to the tune of “Let it Go”).

Chanukah fun will start at Shir Ami Religious School, Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4-6 p.m. To commemorate the miracle of oil in the ancient temple, the students will deep fry sufganiyot, an Israeli holiday treat of jelly donuts, with Education Chair and early childhood specialist Linda Gratt. Dahni, a native of Israel who teaches all grade levels, will lead the students in Israeli dancing. They will also write holiday letters to Israeli soldiers with Jewish history and culture teacher Ellen Reid. UJA Federation Israeli Emissary Avihu will play the time-honored game of dreidel with everyone. And the students will act out the ancient story of Chanukah with holiday songs led by world-class entertainers Jonathan Cahr and Rabbi Axe.

For Shir Ami, the Season of Light is a time for community service in keeping with the Chanukah theme of rededication to make the world a better place. With an annual Holiday Giving Project, Shir Ami reaches out to Abilis, a Greenwich agency that provides comprehensive services for people of all ages with developmental disabilities, by underwriting a table at Chanukah Live! for adult Abilis guests and fulfilling their holiday gift wish list to give these very special friends a lift during the holiday season.

Shir Ami will again partner with First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, their hosts for year-round Shabbat services and religious school, for the annual Interfaith Community Holiday Blood Drive, Saturday, Dec. 27, from 8-1:15. “This time of year is always a challenge for blood banks, points out Barbara Salop, past president and chair of the annual blood drive, “so our participation has far-reaching impact.”

Jenny Lake, chair of the Shir Ami Social Action Team, notes that “the joy of these projects is that members of Shir Ami can perform significant acts of goodness for people in need during the holiday season.” “These acts of giving represent what has always been a core value for Shir Ami since we were founded in 2003,” adds Rick Mason, Co-President of Shir Ami. “Bringing the miracle of Chanukah to the hearts of everyone in the community during this season and all year round is really meaningful for our families.”

“The name of our Social Action Committee says it all,” remarks David Green, Co-President of Shir Ami. “We call our community service committee the TIKVAH Team, which is the Hebrew word for hope and an acronym for Touching Individuals with Kindness, Vision, and Hope.”

Chanukah Live!, chaired by Sara Meiri along with assistance from Linda Gratt, Ellen Reid, and Dahni Nisinzweig, is open to the community and all are welcome, Adults/$25 | Teens 13-18/$10 | Children under 13/Free. RSVP is required. Visit congregationshirami.org or call 203-274-5376 to RSVP and learn more about Chanukah Live! as well as all Shir Ami programs and events.

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