Menorah lighting in prior years
Menorah lighting in prior years. (Anthony Lanzilote)

A virtual Menorah in the D and car parade will take place, with new activities replacing Latke Vodka and Chanukah Wonderland.

This year the Jewish community can celebrate Chanukah with events that promise connection and fun while staying safe during the pandemic.

For the past 10 years, the lighting of a large menorah in downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park has attracted many enthusiastic participants of all ages. This year, Menorah in the D, presented by The Shul, ChabaD Greater Downtown Detroit and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, will feature its traditional torch lighting of the menorah at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10.

Though Campus Martius is a public plaza, organizers are encouraging people to watch this year’s Menorah in the D from home instead of in-person. Greetings from community leaders and dignitaries, as well as entertainment and an after-party, will be live-streamed. Visit menorahinthed.com for more information and to register for a special Menorah in the D box of Chanukah-related items.

Bruce Schwartz, the Rock Ventures Detroit ambassador who has been involved with Menorah in the D since its inception, says that households are encouraged to light their Chanukah candles at the same time as the lighting downtown. Some in-home lightings will be featured on the live video.

This year, NEXTGen Detroit and its partners will kick off an eight-night online “Light Up the Night” celebration. For each night after Menorah in the D, a local rabbi will lead an online candle lighting; on the eighth night, a Community Candle Lighting will feature representatives from a range of local Jewish organizations.

“NEXTGen Detroit has eight glowing nights lined up so we can all burn brighter together. Every evening, a new special guest will join us on Zoom to lead us in lighting the menorah and bright a unique way to celebrate the holiday,” says Tomer Moked, director, NEXTGen Detroit, a program of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

This online event is planned for young adults ages 21 to 45. Information will be available on NEXTGen’s website and through social media. Latke Vodka, NEXTGen’s usual Chanukah event, will not be held this year.

Another popular event, Chanukah Wonderland, presented in the past by Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield, will not be held due to COVID-19. In its place, Bais Chabad is providing “Chanukah Wonderbags,” holiday-themed swag bags for interested parties.

In addition, Bais Chabad and JFamily, a Jewish Community Center program, will present a “Chanukah Parade of Light and Love” on Sunday, Dec. 13, beginning at 4 p.m. Participants, some with menorahs on their cars, will drive around the Jewish Senior Life buildings on its West Bloomfield campus to entertain the senior adults who live there.

Light and Love flyer

“They have been hit hardest by COVID since they can’t have guests or congregate. We want to bring Chanukah joy and light to that community,” said Rabbi Schneur Silberberg, outreach director at Bais Chabad Torah Center.

After circling Jewish Senior Life residences, the car parade will travel to the nearby JCC West Bloomfield parking lot for a video program presented on a large outdoor screen. A menorah will be lit, and interactive Chanukah games will be offered on screen. Chanukah treats will be delivered to the cars participating in the parade.

To register for swag bags for participating cars, or to sponsor or purchase a menorah for display during the car parade, visit baischabad.com/light. This event is free. Children’s “Chanukah Wonderbags” are available for purchase on the website.

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