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    Louisville Chanukkah Hanukkah Menorah
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    In addition to being the resident sweet tooth around town, I’m also a Jewish girl who loves the simple things in life: like devouring jelly doughnuts by the morsel, eating my weight in potato latkes, and dreidel-spinning championships winning chocolate gelt (edible money!). When it comes down to it, lighting Chanukkah candles on the menorah surrounded by the people I love is one of my absolute favorite traditions.

    Chanukkah is actually translated phonetically to English from the Hebrew word. So, fun fact: In English, it has multiple spellings, just like our famous tagline: Louisville, Luh-vul, Looey-ville. Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Hannukkah,... you get the picture.

    This time of year is not only about joyful merriment, but also about appreciating diversity- all the extraordinary differences that make Louisville such a special melting pot. Like Chanukkah, the festival commemorating the miracle of light! If you didn’t know already, we Jews love a great cultural shindig- any excuse to break out the Manischewitz while celebrating the gift of life? Just brings our small group with its fiercely tight-knit traditions that much more closely together (and with sparkling zest).

    We also love the way hope can ignite a people to surpass any obstacle. For this reason, we value every wonder this whirlwind life throws in front of our path: cherishing these little moments, through assorted delicacies and songs, teaches humanity to hold onto the ever-burning power of dreams and sacred traditions.

    I spoke with Cantor David Lipp, the cantor of my synagogue, Adath Jeshurun, to find out all about where to go if you are looking to connect with the Jewish community in Louisville for Chanukkah 2014.

    Luckily, even into the third night of the holiday, there are still fantastic festivities that await along with the unused laced wax candles, waiting to be lit.

    Tonight, Thursday, December 18th:

    Funk Shui: Chanukkah Jam at the Zephyr Gallery. From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Music jam sessions at a contemporary art gallery downtown. Complete with cider, wine, and decadent Nord's donuts! More information at the end of the article! See below.

    Louisville Chanukkah Hanukkah Menorah

    Menorah courtesy of Cantor David Lipp

    This Sunday, December 21st:

    Chabad of Kentucky's Chanukah Live! will be held at Fourth Street Live! Begins at 4:00 p.m. Bowling, ice skating, gelt (chocolate "money"), olive oil workshop, complete with Mayor Greg Fischer lighting the menorah! Treats will be available to the public. Free gift for every participant.

    The Jewish Community Center’s Annual Interfaith Chanukkah Party. Begins at 6:00 p.m. Jewish Community Relations Council Director Matt Goldberg says, "It's music, food, and schmoozing." Everyone is happy! All are welcome.

    Anshei Sfard’s Chanukkah Celebration Dinner. Begins at 6:00 p.m.

    This coming Monday, December 22nd:

    Glenview’s BYOM (Bring Your Own Menorah!): A Festive Chanukkah Celebration with Cantor David Lipp of Congregation Adath Jeshurun for a community candle-lighting. Free of charge, open to the community, singalong, reception to follow. They will supply the candles. There will be delicious desserts! Begins at 7:00 p.m.


    I asked Cantor David Lipp a few questions about some behind-the-scenes intel and what to expect with the ultimate way to celebrate this evening's third night of Chanukkah: Funk Shui: Chanukkah Jam at the Zephyr Gallery (listed above). 

    Fun facts:

    All ages are encouraged to attend. "It's really for any age group, for people to come and go as they please," Cantor Lipp explained.

    * Come for the candle lighting, but stay for the collaborative music jam sessions to ensue! Performers include John Gage, Gareth Jones, Pat Lentz, Cantor Sharon Hordes, Rabbi Gaylia Rooks, and AlexanderSings.

    * Gareth Jones and Cantor Hordes will also be performing at the interfaith program at the Jewish Community Center this Sunday. 

    * Cantor Lipp has collaborated before with Gareth Jones on prior recording projects and identifies him as "the go-to guy for Spanish-inflected guitar playing." Chanukkah songs with an exciting twist for those who venture to the Zephyr art gallery this evening!

    Chanukkah Music Celebration

    * Pat Lentz is Cantor Lipp's guitar teacher. Cantor Lipp says, "As a jazz stylist, he can play virtually any style of music you throw at him. He plays by ear and by music and is a consummate musician and mensch." a.k.a. an affable, all-around great guy. Get ready for a jazzed up Chanukkah. 

    *AlexanderSings by day goes by the name of Alex Udis, who is actually a former bar mitzvah student of Cantor Lipp's! The student has become the co-collaborator. Cantor Lipp praises about his former student, "He has a great energy about him, very positive."

    * The celebration tonight will be taking place at the gallery exhibition titled "Stranger than Function." To tie in the theme of the setting, Cantor Lipp explains, "For the lighting of the candles I wanted a menorah that was somehow 'stranger than function' so I'm going to use one of the ones my daughter made many years ago that's made of bolts and buttons and toys." Tradition swirled with contemporary dazzle! 

    * Cantor Lipp has always hoped to celebrate Chanukkah at a gallery downtown. The venue and the opportunity have finally arisen! 

    * That's not the only "new" prospect coming to fruition. Cantor Lipp loves "learning new things," and looks forward to performing a poem that is "new" for him called "Kindle the Taper." It's coincidentally written by Emma Lazarus, who is famous for having written the poem on The Statue of Liberty. 

    * Award to behind-the-scenes collaborator goes to Cantor Lipp's wife, Rabbi Laura Metzger, for helping create the fun name of the event. "...Since the exhibit is about how normal items are used differently or made differently, I thought of Fung Shui which is about everything being in the right intuitive place and how this WASN'T that but 'Funk Shui: Chanukkah Jam." A Chanukkah event about things just a little out of place-- Funky and Shui." 


    Cantor Lipp offers this thought-provoking backstory of this celebration and the Jewish culture: "Jews have always been seen as a little strange by the world at large. We are still a startlingly small minority in a big world. Although the dedication of the Temple was an attempt to restore order to the sacrificial system of the ancient Judeans, the ability of Judaism to adapt and adjust to the times is what has probably made it possible for us to survive in the midst of very different cultures and civilizations."

    Every celebration is enriched with dense and colorful history. The next time you hear a dreidel song or spot a jelly doughnut, know how much faith, optimism, and vitality echoes in each note, drips from each saccharine bite. Don't shy away from what is unique. Celebrate the traditions that honor your past generation's struggles and make you who you are today. 

    Make sure to venture over to Zephyr Gallery downtown tonight at 5:00, as well as all the other exciting Chanukkah festivities occurring! Happy Holidays to everyone, however you rejoice in the season.


    Cover Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/tomertu; Second Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/tomertu; Third Photo: Courtesy of Cantor David Lipp; Fourth Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock/Eugene Ivanov

    Julie Lamb's picture

    About Julie Lamb

    Curly-haired owner of one massive sweet tooth, believer of Harry Potter and Disney fairytales, and a fierce lover of all things literary and the arts.

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