L’chaim is a Hebrew toast meaning "to life" — and this Hanukkah is a celebration of regular life coming back again, says Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum of The Chai Center in Dix Hills.
Several events that were nixed last year due to the pandemic are returning to Long Island this holiday season, including an indoor Hanukkah wonderland and a Hannukah on Ice celebration.
"It’s great to be with people; it brings a whole new meaning to Hanukkah this year," Weinbaum says. Outdoor events are also still on the agenda to mark the eight-night holiday. Here’s a roundup of choices:
NIGHT ONE: Nov. 28
The holiday kicks off with parades. In Merrick, a walking parade starts from the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at 2174 Hewlett Ave., at 4:15 p.m. A fire truck, a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner Convertible and people dressed as a dreidel and Judah the Maccabee will accompany the walkers as they head several blocks to the Merrick train station to light the first candle on a 12-foot menorah. There’ll be other festivities as well — a singing performance by preschoolers, a play by Hebrew school students and a show by a fire juggler. Free; 516-833-3057; chabadjewishlife.org.
In Suffolk County, a driving Grand Menorah Car Parade & Lighting takes off from the Chabad of Mid-Suffolk at 318 Veterans Memorial Highway in Commack at 6 p.m., with a destination of The Chai Center at 501 Vanderbilt Parkway in Dix Hills. At 6:45 in Dix Hills, there’ll be a menorah lighting, live music, doughnuts and latkes. There’ll also be a fire juggling show. Free; 631-351-8672; thechaicenter.com.
NIGHT TWO: Nov. 29
Sweet potato latkes, potato and cheese latkes and other creative varieties of latkes will be served at the Lights & Latkes Great Latke Bar family event from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Jewish Family Initiative Center in East Meadow. The festivities will be held in an outdoor tent and include live music and a menorah lighting, says Rabbi Avraham Portnoy. "The event was so popular in 2019 that we’re doing it again this year," Portnoy says. The pandemic paused the event in 2020. Guests can also stuff their own jelly doughnuts. The center is at 1544 Prospect Ave. Advance sign-up is recommended even though the event is free; 516-888-1150; register at jfi-li.com.
Enjoy pizza and donuts, see a fire truck, design cards to be mailed to U.S. military personnel and engage in art projects for young children during the menorah lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. at Dix Hills Jewish Center, 555 Vanderbilt Pkwy., Dix Hills. Wear your favorite Hanukkah swag and come ready to sing. 631.499.6644, dhjc.org.
NIGHT SEVEN: Dec. 4
A family menorah lighting and drive-in movie is planned for 5:30 p.m., on Dec. 4 at the Suffolk Y JCC in Commack. After the candle lighting and singalong, the animated musical movie "Sing" will roll. $10 per car, advance registration required; 631-462-9800; syjcc.org.
The Adult Hanukkah Night of Comedy at 7 p.m., in Dix Hills, is just for the grown-ups and includes finger food and open bar. Reserve a spot by Nov. 29; $25 per person. At The Chai Center, 501 Vanderbilt Pkwy; 631-351-8672, thechaicenter.com.
NIGHT EIGHT: Dec. 5
Get festive at Hanukkah Wonderland in Dix Hills, with games, arts and crafts, and activities such as decorating doughnuts, finding Judah the Maccabee and making Hanukkah candles; 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., $12 per person at The Chai Center, 501 Vanderbilt Pkwy.; 631-351-8672, thechaicenter.com.
Wrap up the last night of the holiday by lacing up the ice skates from 3 to 4:30 p.m., or from 5 to 6:30 p.m., for Hanukkah on Ice at the Long Beach Ice Arena, with an ice sculpture menorah lighting between the sessions at 4:45 p.m. The event also includes face painting and building a personal Hanukkah gelt launcher. Pizza, latkes and doughnuts will be served. Skates and pizza is $12 per person or $60 per family if purchased by Nov. 30, $16 per person and $80 per family after that or ad the door. Pizza and entry only is $8 by Nov. 30, $12 after that or at the door. Ice arena is at 150 W. Bay Dr. Hosted by Chabads of the Beaches, West Hempstead and Oceanside. Register in advance by calling 516-574-3905 or visiting chabadofthebeaches.com.