the indy chanukah guide

Chanukah is Sunday, December 6 -December 14, 2015 and its traditions vary among families. In general most families all light the menorah for eight nights, eat fried food including jelly doughnuts and potato pancakes, and play games with their family & friends.

So what does an interfaith holiday season look like?

Retail Shopping for Chanukah in Indianapolis

  • Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation Gift Shop
  • Crate and Barrel
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Toy R Us
  • Steinmart
  • Harry & David
  • Macy’s

Every year, local synogogues and other organizations create an inclusive opportunity for the community to experience Jewish traditions.

Upcoming Events- November and December

Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation

Sunday December 6th 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. Children’s Shopping Day

    • Free gift wrap
    • Low costs gifts for kids to purchase items for their family members
    • Gift registry
    • Visit the Sisterhood Gift Shop and stock up on the best selection of home and holiday décor, partyware, hanukkiahs, candles and gifts for the entire family (or better yet pick out something for yourself)! http://ihcindy.org/who_we_are/sisterhood_gift_shop
Congregation Beth Shalom
      • November 22 9:30 a.m. Adopt a Family for Hannukah –Gift shopping for families in need.
Home Depot (9855 N. Michigan Rd Carmel, IN 46032)
      • November 29th 2:30-4:30 p.m. Build your own Menorah
Jewish Community Center
Jewish Federation
      • November 22nd noon JFGI Community Day at the Hasten Hebrew Academy (6602 Hoover Road). Eat lunch, wrap gifts, participate in activities with PJ Library, and to donate blood in the blood drive.
      • December 8th 6-10 p.m. Chanukah with the Pacers. A Chanukah celebration complete with Menorah lighting and Chanukah treats. afterwards, as you watch the Pacers beat the Warriors!
      • December 13th 3-5 p.m. Merry Mitzvah Holiday Party for Interfaith Couples and their families, enjoy crafts, jelly doughnuts. and candle lighting, make a special gift, and talk about how the children’s donations impact the recipients and their families.
Chabad Center for Jewish Living (2640 W 96th St Indianapolis, IN 46268)
      • December 6th 5 p.m. – midnight COMMUNITY-WIDE ISRAELI CHANUKAH CHAGIGAH Celebrate the first night of Chanukah with family, friends and new friends! Delicious food, Menorah lighting, activities for kids, entertainment, etc. Event is free and open to the entire Jewish community.
Congregation Shaarey Tefilla (3085 W 116th St Carmel, IN 46032) 
      • CST Chanukah Dinner, December 13th 6-8 p.m. Food, songs, crafts and fun! Cost $10.
Beth Zedeck (600 W. 70th St Indianapolis, IN) 
    • December 9th 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon, Performances by all of the children and Family Chanukah Party
    • December 11th 6 p.m. Amazing Technicolor Hanukah Shabbat Service & Dinner Reservations Requested http://bez613.org/family-hanukah-shabbat/ A family-friendly Hanukah Shabbat service featuring our prayers set to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! Stay for a festive holiday meal (catered by Sisterhood & Men’s Club) and after-dinner entertainment with the amazing magician Don Miller!

Our Story as an interfaith family…

I travel home to my parents typically for their annual Chanukah party in which 50% of the participants are not Jewish, rather people that want to learn more about our traditions. Sometimes referred to as “The Festival of Lights,” Chanukah is a time of the year to spend time with family and friends.

Food Served at the Party
  • Latkes (potato pancakes) are frying in the garage (traditional and new varieties)
  • Sufganiyah (jelly doughnuts)
  • Fried Thai eggrolls prepared by a family friend (our own tradition)
  • Noodle Kuggel with Apples and Cinnamon
  • Brisket
Other Traditions at the Party
  • Gelt is distributed to all the children (chocolate money wrapped in gold or silver)
  • Dreidels are distributed to all the children
  • 15-20 menorahs are lit at one time- amazing differences to cater to an individual’s favorite things/colors. The candles are all different colors, textures and sizes and all shine at the same time.

Every other December (depending when Chanukah falls), we pack our menorah and candles for the flight to California and celebrate with my husband’s family. We spend Christmas Eve- joining the extended family for a Mexican/Filipino feast. The room is filled with laughter, full stomachs, present opening for the children and out of this world chocolate mousse cake.

The Hamilton Southeastern School District has been one of inclusiveness.

  • My daughter like other children are encouraged to share their traditions. We typically send a story for her to share with her class and participants at the aftercare program.
  • Most teachers have been open to allowing our daughter to do an alternate craft if my daughter chooses since we don’t hang Christmas decorations in our home.
  • Even the music program included a Chanukah song or two each year.

We have always stressed to our daughter that we are respectful of others beliefs and we are open to learning about other cultures. Since she was a baby she has been exposed to multiple religious beliefs.

On year’s when we don’t travel to see my husband’s side of the family, we do the traditional Chinese dinner, bowling and go to a movie.

Hopefully as our daughter gets older, she will do as I did and volunteer at a church, babysitting so others can enjoy their service or at a soup kitchen serving dinner.