Indy Hanukkah Guide | Activities and Ideas for Families

This year Hanukkah is Sunday, November 28-Monday, December 6, 2021 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 Hanukkah in Indianapolis

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

Upcoming Hanukkah Events

Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation

    • Virtual Hanukkah Pajamukah, Saturday, December 12, 5-5:30 pm
    • Hanukkah Drive-Thru, Sunday, December 13, 2-3 pm in the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation Parking Lot

Congregation Beth Shalom (Carmel)

      • Menorah Lighting at Federation, December 12, 7-8 pm
        Join members of Congregation Beth Shalom and Shaarey T’Filah as we light the 3rd candle on the community Menorah in front of the Federation Building. Candlelighting will begin at 7 pm.

Jewish Federation

      • Latkes and Lights, Sunday, December 13, 5-9 pm
        Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis for the first-ever Hanukkah takeover of Newfields! Celebrate Hanukkah and experience the wonder of Winterlights with over a million and a half lights glittering on 100-year-old trees in the historic garden. Come to this family-friendly and socially-distanced event by signing up for a time slot at
      • Menorah, What’s Your Story – Virtual Live Storytelling Event, Monday, December 14 7-8 pm
        Like the stories of the Jewish people in the Torah, each Chanukkiah (a Hanukkah menorah) has its own story. This year, we are expanding our communal story with an interactive Hanukkah experience…. there will be Menorah stories, music, games and fun – everything except the lingering smell of latkes.

Chabad Center for Jewish Living (2640 W 96th St Indianapolis, IN 46268)

      • Hanukkah Car Parade and Gelt Drop, Sunday, December 13, 5-6:30 pm
        RSVP requested. Meet at Chabad Lubavitch of Indiana on 96th Street at 4:45 pm and travel in the parade to Carmel’s City Hall lawn for the Menorah lighting and Gelt drop.

Beth Zedeck (Indianapolis)

  • Virtual Hanukah Shabbat and Kitah Dalet Siddur Ceremony, Friday, December 11 6-6:30 pm
  • Light Up the Screens: A Virtual Hanukah Experience, Thursday, December 17, 7-8 pm
    Celebrate the last night of Hanukah with the spiritual leaders and members of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck. Light up your screen with your favorite menorah. Enjoy festive music and Hanukah Trivia during this delightful celebration.

Our Story as an Interfaith Family

I travel home to my parents typically for their annual Hanukkah 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,” Hanukkah 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 Hanukkah 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 Hanukkah 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.

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