As a way to connect Jews of all ages during the height of the global coronavirus pandemic, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is inviting people to join on Facebook and unite with communities worldwide through a Hanukkah candle-lighting video each night of the holiday at 5 p.m. EST, starting on the first night on Thursday, Dec. 10 and lasting through Friday, Dec. 18.

The videos, which will be posted on JDC’s Facebook page, will include participants from Cuba, Hungary, India, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine and Israel.

JDC also creates and supports scores of overseas Hanukkah activities with thousands joining virtual programming, including menorah-lightings, concerts, cooking workshops and educational sessions, as well as volunteer opportunities ensuring that the most vulnerable enjoy the holiday even in isolation.

“In this year of terrible loss, we need to seize Hanukkah’s message of spreading light and hope amid the darkness. JDC proudly does this by aiding Jews, Jewish communities and Israelis hard-hit by the pandemic, and by keeping Jewish life thriving on new virtual platforms. By connecting Jewish communities around the world to celebrate Hanukkah and the miracles we make happen every day, we hope to inspire countless miracle-makers to engage in similar acts safeguarding humanity, inspiring Jewish identity and building a better tomorrow,” said JDC president Mark Sisisky and JDC interim CEO Darrell Friedman.

JDC global Hanukkah programs draw from emerging, established and ancient Jewish communities, including:

Across the former Soviet Union, where JDC’s wide-ranging operation includes social services for the poor and elderly, as well as builds Jewish life. Community celebrations will be accompanied by the work of Jewish volunteers ensuring that the vulnerable, including the isolated, can still celebrate the eight-day holiday.

In Odessa, Ukraine, participants in JDC’s Active Jewish Teens program will deliver holiday sets, including candles, menorahs and holiday treats, to hundreds of elderly and local families. AJT is powered by a founding partnership with BBYO and partnerships with Genesis Philanthropy Group and other supporters.

In Minsk, Belarus, a local artist will conduct a Zoom class for seniors cared for by the JDC Hesed social-service center to paint Hanukkah-themed postcards to share with thousands of seniors in their community, as well as elderly Jews from Mogilev and Grodno.

JDC Hanukkah candle-lightings and other online programs are geared to connect Jews worldwide as the coronavirus pandemic reaches an especially dark period, December 2020. Credit: Courtesy.

In Europe, where JDC has partnered with local Jewish communities since its founding, virtual community Hanukkah celebrations will happen in Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia.

In Poland, the flagship Warsaw Jewish Community Center will hold a series of culinary workshops where members and friends will learn how to make traditional sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and latkes (potato pancakes).

In Hungary, the JDC-founded JCC Budapest will release online holiday-related content—videos, games, recipes and educational materials—for use by the Jewish public, especially those just learning about Judaism, to celebrate the holiday in new ways. They will also be streaming Hanukkah candle-lightings and educational programs, and inviting different members of the community to light a candle each day.

In Bucharest, Romania, and Sofia, Bulgaria, Jewish volunteers will prepare and deliver packages containing holiday fare and candle-lighting kits to children and the elderly.

In India, the Mumbai Jewish community will host its 24th annual Khai Fest, a Hanukkah program that this year will be offered online. Hundreds of participants will be treated to holiday traditions, candle-lighting and performances by local community members. Proceeds from the annual fundraising effort benefit the local Bayiti Jewish home for the elderly, as well as Jewish education and youth leadership programs.

JDC Hanukkah candle-lightings and other online programs are geared to connect Jews worldwide as the coronavirus pandemic reaches an especially dark period, December 2020. Credit: Courtesy.

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