Long Beach’s Jewish community is set to celebrate Hanukkah with a joint event involving multiple denominations. The event is scheduled for Thursday night, Dec. 7, coinciding with the first night of Hanukkah, and plans to be a beacon of unity and community spirit.
Long Beach has long been home to diverse Jewish denominations, including Hasidic, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and more. Sometimes, the various denominations operate individually, limiting opportunities for shared communal experiences. Rabbi Jack Zanerhaft of Temple Emanu-El wanted to change that.
“In the same way that Christianity has different denominations, Judaism encompasses a rich tapestry of practices and beliefs.” Zanerhaft said. “I really tried to make an effort to do something with one of the Orthodox synagogues, in this case Lido’s. So we’re doing a joint Hanukkah program.”
Temple Emanu-El and Lido Beach Synagogue, representing different denominations, will have the program from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Following the program, participants will gather at City Hall for the Grand Menorah Lighting in Kennedy Plaza.
“We felt it was just an important moment,” Zanerhaft said. “The Jewish people’s history demonstrates that we are united despite our political differences, our religious differences and practice differences. So that’s really the tone and the tenor I’m trying to present. It’s really a moment of unity and community and I think it’s just a really nice message. We reach out to all the different demographics of our community because it’s important to build bridges.”
The initiative aims to showcase that, beyond political and religious differences, the Long Beach Jewish community is a united front. The event is not just about celebrating Hanukkah but also building bridges within the community, extending outreach to different demographics, including the Latino community, the African-American community, and the LGBTQ community, among others.
All members of the community are invited to join in this unique celebration that hopes to unite all community members even more.
Temple Emanu-El of Long Beach has been an epicenter of cultural and religious events across the city for quite some time. Special Shabbats, performances and talks have brought many different people together as one.
The temple hosts many events, such as its Pride Shabbat each year, right in the middle of the countrywide Pride Month. Pride Month is currently celebrated each year to recognize the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a major point during the Gay Liberation Movement in the country.
The temple has numerous more events throughout the year, including special and unique ones, like when there was a little bit of the green there. That was when the temple celebrated “Shabbat for Irish History Month” to connect the Jewish and Irish communities on the barrier island in March. The Hanukkah celebration is another event for the community to join in on.