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Amid rising Jew-hatred in LA, Federation to host ‘Infinite Light’ young-adult Chanukah festival

“Despite these dark days, we must always remember to find light. We must always remember what makes being Jewish so wonderful,” stated Rabbi Noah Farkas, head of the L.A. Federation.

Young adults in their 20s and 30s build community with challah. Courtesy: NuRoots.
Young adults in their 20s and 30s build community with challah. Courtesy: NuRoots.

The final paragraph of the song “Ma’oz Tzur,” a central part of the Chanukah liturgy, implores God to avenge Jewish blood from “the evil nation,” for “there is no end from the wickedness.”

Those words will have special significance this year to adherents of the eight-day holiday, which starts Dec. 7 at night—two months after the Hamas terror attacks of Oct. 7.

“We know that love ultimately will overcome hate, that community is crucial, and that light will overcome darkness. It is especially important to remember that this Chanukah season,” stated the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

To that end, the Federations NuRoots Initiative for young adults will host a week-long “Infinite Light” festival from Dec. 7 to 14, which will include daily candlelightings and will highlight “the unique energy of Chanukah, reflecting L.A.’s diverse community of Jewish young adults,” per the Federation.

The festival, whose opening night event will take place on the rooftop of the city’s Petersen Automotive Museum, is slated to include an ugly sweater gathering, a “joyful celebration with an Asian Jewish spin” with “a dreidel unique to your identity,” a holiday bazaar, music, storytelling by candlelight, candle making, dancing and events geared to Jews of color and the “largest queer Chanukah party on the West Coast.”

‘Love letter’ to young Jewish adults

Rabbi Noah Farkas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Federation, stated that young Jews, who “are being harassed in unprecedented numbers across college campuses and online,” have felt the consequences of the “dark and challenging time” uniquely.

“Despite these dark days, we must always remember to find light. We must always remember what makes being Jewish so wonderful,” Farkas stated. “Infinite Light has been designed to spread this light across our local Jewish community and inspire others around the world to do the same.”

Chelsea Snyder, vice president of the NuRoots community, told JNS that the festival is “a love letter to our young adult Jewish community,” which returns “to our roots, leaning into ancient traditions, gathering together and practicing rituals to keep our light shining bright.”

“We believe our heart is filled and that we are whole when we are in community together and cultivating Jewish joy,” Snyder added. “Together we will create spaces for love, hope and radical communal illumination.”

Chanukah on the beach. Credit: Courtesy of NuRoots.

This year’s festival, whose theme is welcoming visitors and hospitality (hachnasat orchim), will be NuRoots’s ninth. On Dec. 8, NuRoots will partner with OneTable to sponsor dozens of Shabbat dinners across the city for a “Shabbanukah extravaganza.”

Rising antisemitism

The Ventura County sheriff recently arrested a pro-Palestinian protestor, whom it charged in the killing of Paul Kessler, 69, a pro-Israel Jew who was supporting the Jewish state at a rally near Los Angeles. Late last month, the district attorney’s office in Los Angeles County charged a man with threatening to kill a Jewish family in its home, and Jewish parents told the Los Angeles Unified School District recently that their children have experienced a “subtle and outright” rise in Jew-hatred. 

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Berkeley Law School, wrote late last month: “Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now.” 

In March, more than six months before the Oct. 7 terror attacks, the Anti-Defamation League reported a “shocking” increase in anti-Jewish assaults in Los Angeles. “These record-setting figures make clear that there has not just been a surge of antisemitism, there is an unfortunate and unmistakable trendline that antisemitism is deeply embedded and growing in every part of society,” stated Jeffrey Abrams, director of the ADL’s Los Angeles region.

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