Hanukkah is a moving holiday — unlike Christmas, which falls on the same day each year, Hanukkah can start any time in December. This year, because the eight-night holiday starts on Dec. 22, it overlaps with the Christmas break.
“Especially this year, when everyone’s off from school, we want to make sure people have fun things to do during Hanukkah,” says Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum of The Chai Center in Dix Hills, which is sponsoring a number of family festivities, including an illusionist show and a bowling night.
Here are six ways to celebrate:
Raise a brush
Kids ages 5 and older will get step-by-step instructions on creating their own menorah painting during this class at Key to My Art. Parents are welcome to paint one, too. Class is 1 to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the East Rockaway location and 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 22 at the Amityville location. Cost is $20 per person; advance registration required. Key to My Art is at 131 Main St. in East Rockaway (516-218-2920) and 10 W. Oak St. in Amityville (631-608-0148). For more information, visit keytomyart.com.
Go to chocolate heaven
A free “Chanukah in Chocolate Heaven” event kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 22 at the Merrick LIRR Station with a lighting of a 12-foot menorah. It continues with a chocolate gelt and parachute dreidel drop into the crowd. Then guests will make a several block parade to the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at 2174 Hewlett Ave., where festivities continue indoors. “We’re going to have a lot of chocolate-y activities,” says Chanie Kramer, program director. Participants will have a chance to grind, melt and mold chocolate coins, fill doughnuts with chocolate mousse and visit the hot chocolate bar and chocolate fountain. Families can take a photo with Judah Maccabee. For more information, call 516-833-3057 or visit chabadjewishlife.org.
Glide into the holiday — or out of it
Slip on the ice skates and round the rink listening to the music of the Maccabeats a cappella group singing “I throw my latkes in the air sometimes” and other Hanukkah lyrics to the tune of popular songs. At 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, the first night of the holiday, a menorah lighting, latkes, hot chocolate and doughnuts will be followed by a 6 to 7 p.m. ice skating session at the Ice Rink at Tanger Outlets in Deer Park. $12 per person includes skate rental. For more information, call 631-351-8672 or visit thechaicenter.com/Chanukah. At 3 to 5 p.m. or 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29, the last night of the holiday, skate at the Long Beach Ice Arena, 150 W. Bay Dr., Long Beach. Skates and pizza is $12 per person or $60 per family in advance, $16 per person and $80 per family at the door. Pizza and entry only is $8 in advance, $12 at the door. Activities include face painting, watching ice menorah sculpting, making Hanukkah candles and building their own “gelt launcher” craft. Register in advance by calling 516-574-3905 or visit chabadofthebeaches.com.
Sample lots of latkes
Chipotle Cheddar latkes, rosemary garlic latkes and four other creative varieties of latkes will be on the menu at the first free “Lights & Latkes Great Latke Bar,” 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 24 at the Jewish Family Initiative Center in East Meadow. “It’s going to be a buffet. We’ll have small mini ones made fresh on the spot,” says center Rabbi Avraham Portnoy. 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. For more information, call 516-888-1150 or register at jfi-li.com.
Make a little magic
South African illusionist Ilan Smith brings his act to Dix Hills, reading minds, making people disappear and performing card tricks. Enjoy a Chinese dinner and the show starting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 24 at The Chai Center, 501 Vanderbilt Pkwy. “It’s become a little bit of a Jewish tradition on Christmas Eve to eat Chinese food,” says Chai Center Rabbi Weinbaum.Tickets are $25 per adult and $15 per child. Advance registration is required, call 631-351-8672 or visit thechaicenter.com/Chanukah.
Strike up some fun
A ceremonial lighting of a bowling-pin menorah sets the mood for a family bowling night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 25 at Bowlero Bowling, 2183 Jericho Tpke., Commack. $12 per person includes shoes, 90 minutes of bowling and a $7 arcade game card. Advance registration required, call 631-351-8672 or visit thechiacenter.com/Chanukah.