Hanukkah started sundown Sunday, 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 frivolity — like the Mazel Lights Chanukkah Bowling and Chinese Dinner on Wednesday. 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 Congregation Schaarai Zedek at (813) 876-2377, or go to zedek.org.
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.
The party, which was called Vodka Latke last year, has drawn a couple hundred fabulously dressed young revelers 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 to the group's food bank. Tickets are $30 at the door.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.