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Hanukkah events range from fun to fab

With Hanukkah approaching, some Tampa Bay Jewish organizations are having fun with the holiday, such as the fab party scene at the Matzo Ball, or giving back with the giant Can-orah Menorah to restock food pantries.

Hanukkah starts Sunday night, and with the holiday being nestled in the middle of the Christmas season, some of the events have a certain sense of cheekiness — like the Mazel Lights Hanukkah/bowling/Chinese food party on Dec. 24, when Jewish families will gather at 4 p.m. at Pinarama Bowling, 5008 S Dale Mabry Highway. After bowling a few games, the group will light the 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, held at the Blue Martini Lounge at International Plaza at 9 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 24).

The party, which was called Vodka Latke last year, always draws a couple hundred fabulously dressed young Jews. This year a national event planning company is adding its marketing muscle to the Matzo Ball and is 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 YAD is asking partiers to bring two canned food items to go toward the group's food bank. If you buy your ticket by Friday at it will only cost $25. After that, it's $30 at the door.

More Hanukkah events

Hanukkah on Ice It's a free night of skating starting at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the first night of Hanukkah, at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy at Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater. There will be a raffle, giveaways, a grand lighting of the menorah, doughnuts and hot latkes. It's free, but make a reservation at or (727) 789-0408.

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 Shopping Center, you can see jugglers, get some hot latkes and the kids can make a craft or get their faces painted. Free.

Pier 60 For the first time, Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach will be the site of a grand menorah lighting on Monday. Meet in the grassy area in front of the park for the 6:30 p.m. lighting, and there will be gelt for the kids and lots of music and singing. (727) 434-6060.

Hanukkah in Plant Park See a giant menorah lit Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the University of Tampa's Plant Park. There will be free food, gelt, music and a raffle. Free and open to the community. See

Giant Canned Food Menorah Hundreds of cans of food will be used to build a giant menorah before they are shipped to local homeless shelters and food pantries. On Dec. 23, there will be a program of music, latkes, dreidels and Hanukkah kits starting at 5:30 p.m. at South Straub Park 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. Dec. 23. There were will be doughnuts and latkes, arts and crafts, and a raffle.

Hanukkah events range from fun to fab 12/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 3:30am]
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