Go tell Veronica, it's time for Hanukkah
Hanukkah starts at sundown Sunday night, and some Tampa Bay Jewish organizations are having fun with the holiday (such as the fab party scene at the Matzo Ball) or using it as a time to give back (as with the giant Can-orah Menorah to restock food pantries).
With the holiday being nestled in the middle of the Christmas season, some events have a certain cheekiness — like the Mazel Lights' Hanukkah/bowling/Chinese food party on Wednesday, Christmas Eve. The social group for young Jewish families will gather at 4 p.m. at Pinarama Bowling, 5008 S Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa. After bowling a few games, the group will light a menorah and have a Chinese food buffet. Call (813) 259-1264 to RSVP or the temple office at (813) 876-2377.
But by far, the biggest party scene in the Jewish circuit is this year’s Matzo Ball, beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Blue Martini Lounge at International Plaza, 2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa. This babysitter-worthy party, which was called Vodka Latke last year, has drawn a couple hundred fabulously dressed young Jews in the past. This year, a national event planning company is adding its marketing muscle to the Matzo Ball and organizers are expecting twice that number.
“It’s the biggest social event of the year,” said Vicki Teplin, 35, the Young Adult Division director of the Tampa Jewish Federation. “What else is a Jew going to do on Christmas Eve? It’s a fun night; you see all the Jews in town. Everyone looks great, you go dancing and you hang out and party for the night.”
The Young Adult Division is asking partiers to bring two canned food items to go toward the group’s food bank. If you buy your ticket here by Friday, tickets are $25. They will be $30 at the door.
More Hanukkah events
Hanukkah on Ice A free night of skating starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy at Westfield Countryside Mall, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. There will be a raffle, giveaways, a grand lighting of the menorah, doughnuts and hot latkes. It’s free, but make a reservation here or call (727) 789-0408 so they have enough for everyone.
Can-orah Menorah The goal is to collect 1,000 cans of kosher food, which will be donated to the Tampa Jewish Family Services and to the Portamento of Hope in Brandon. Starting at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Westfield Brandon, 459 Brandon Town Center, there will be jugglers, hot latkes, crafts and face-painting — for free.
Pier 60 For the first time, Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach will be the site of a grand menorah lighting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday. Meet in the grassy area in front of the park, where there will be gelt for the kids and lots of music and singing. Call (727) 434-6060 for more information.
Hanukkah in Plant Park Celebrate from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday at the University of Tampa’s Plant Park, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. A giant menorah will be lit, and there will be free food, gelt, music and a raffle. Free and open to the community. See bmchabad.com.
Giant Canned Food Menorah Hundreds of cans of food will be used to build a giant menorah before being shipped to local homeless shelters and food pantries. Tuesday will feature a program of music, latkes, dreidels and Hanukkah kits starting at 5:30 p.m. at South Straub Park, 398 Fifth Ave. NE, in St. Petersburg. The Chabad Jewish Center is accepting donations at 6151 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Call (717) 344-4900 or (727) 510-9180.
Chanukah in the Park Hyde Park Village will be the site of a giant menorah lighting and lots of family-friendly activities from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. There were will be doughnuts and latkes, arts and crafts and a raffle.
And if you'd rather just celebrate at home, here's a nice collection of Hanukkah crafts for kids.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne