Rabbi Berel Lerman, of the Center for Jewish Life synagogue in Sag Harbor, explained the idea behind creating the Unity Menorah Project, where members can come and paint a brush stroke on a paper Menorah. The goal is to show that great things can happen when we come together, he says. Credit: John Roca

From catching dreidels floating down on parachutes to lighting menorahs made of wine bottles, Long Island is overflowing with innovative and trendy Hanukkah events happening all eight nights. 

“The most important part of Hanukkah is the bringing of light into the world during the darkest time of the year," says Rabbi Irwin Huberman of Congregation Tifereth Israel in Glen Cove.

1st CANDLE: DEC. 18

There are so many activities on this day, you might want to hop around. 

11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hanukkah Fair in Plainview

Make-your-own menorah, create edible dreidels out of yummy treats, enter dreidel spinning competitions for prizes, munch on traditional snacks at the latke and jelly doughnut station, dance to live music and more.

INFO: Mid Island Y JCC: 45 Manetto Hill Rd., Plainview; 516-822-3535; free, but a donation of diapers or baby wipes for the Baby Blessing Hanukkah Project is requested.

Noon to 2 p.m., Unity Menorah Painting Extravaganza in Sag Harbor

Add your personal, innovative brush stroke to a 10-foot-wide outline of a menorah on a canvas designed by artist Nathan Slate Joseph. Rabbi Berel Lerman of the Center for Jewish Life-Chabad of Sag Harbor says, “This is the year of coming together and unity. So, we are creating a Unity Menorah. Each person will have an opportunity to add a brush stroke to the painting.” The completed menorah will remain on display for the eight nights of Hanukkah.

INFO: 24 Long Island Ave., Sag Harbor; 631-938-6202; cfjewishlife.com; free.

Rabbi Berel Lerman and wife Brocha at the Center For...

Rabbi Berel Lerman and wife Brocha at the Center For Jewish Life in Sag Harbor.  Credit: John Roca

1:30 to 3 p.m., Family Hanukkah Celebration & Theatre Performance in Commack

Stage 74 Theatre Company presents a Hanukkah play, “Judah Who Always Says No.” It will be followed by a professional unicycle demonstration by local unicycle company Just One Wheel. Kids will have an opportunity to ride unicycles and feast on traditional doughnuts, chocolate gelt, spin dreidels, much more. 

INFO: Suffolk Y JCC: 74 Hauppauge Rd., Commack; 631-462-9800; syjcc.org; free, a donation of an unwrapped toy is requested.

3 to 5 p.m., Hanukkah Festival in East Hills

Israeli teen scouts lead family activities: create your own menorah and dreidel, make Hanukkah cookies, sing traditional songs with Cantors accompanied by guitars and keyboards. For the grand finale, light the menorah and catch chocolate Hanukkah gelt tossed from the top of a firetruck. 

INFO: Sid Jacobson JCC: 300 Forest Ave., East Hills; 516-484-1545; sjjcc.org; free, canned food donations accepted.  

3:30 to 5 p.m., Menorah Lighting Spectacular at Plainview Shopping Center

Under a huge, heated tent, the Town of Oyster Bay Chabad in Woodbury invites one and all to a three- part variety act. Begin with Hanukkah doughnuts, latkes and pizza. At 3:45 p.m., participate in a show with a mentalist. Watch him juggle and appear to swallow fire. At 4:15 p.m., dance to live music and light the giant menorah.

Rabbi Lipsyc of the Oyster Bay Chabad says, “Over 200 people attended last year. It’s open to the broad community, and most who come don’t know 50% of the others. It’s a new experience for everyone.”

INFO: Plainview Shopping Centre: 375 Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview; 347-853-9992; free.

5 p.m. Parachuting Dreidels, Great Chocolate Gelt Drop and Menorah Lighting in Long Beach

In the Kennedy Shopping Plaza, gather around for donughts, latkes, coffee, music and more. Rabbi Eli Goodman of Chabad at the Beaches says about 600 people are expected. As the menorah lights up, for the first time, little dreidels on parachutes will float from 40 feet in the air. Thousands of chocolate gelt treats will be dropped from high above as well. 

INFO: Kennedy Shopping Plaza: 1 Westchester St., Long Beach; 516-574-3905; free.

5 p.m., Robot Dance Show, LED Party and Menorah Lighting in Great Neck

Gather around for hot chocolate, doughnuts, prizes, music and LED bracelets. A human, glow-in-the-dark robot performs and the menorah is lit. “In the Village Green, we’re bringing light to the world. If people drive by, they’ll be reminded it’s Hanukkah," says Rabbi Zelman of the Chabad of Great Neck. "Maybe they’ll pull over and celebrate.”

INFO: The Village Green in Great Neck: Middle Neck Road – Beach Road; 516-654-6000; free.

2nd CANDLE: DEC. 19

5:30 to 8:30 p.m.,  Lights and Latkes in East Meadow

At the Jewish Family Initiative Center, there will be unique, surprise crafts for kids ages 5-15, plus music and games. A variety of latkes will be offered at the Great Latke Bar. Last year’s versions included cilantro jalapeno latkes, chipotle cheddar and celery root. This year, there will be new creations, along with variations on sufganiyot (Hanukkah jelly doughnuts) and sushi.

INFO: 1544 Prospect Ave., East Meadow; 516-888-1150; jfi-li.com; free

7 p.m., Community Menorah Lighting in Commack

Multiple synagogues in the area and the Suffolk Y JCC will sponsor a community menorah lighting event. There will be entertainment, live music, dreidels, chocolate gelt and latkes.

INFO: Commack Corner Shopping Center parking lot -- southeast corner of Jericho Turnpike and Commack Road; free

3rd CANDLE: DEC. 20

7 p.m., Menorah Lighting Gala in Atlantic Beach

Gather around for ice cream, chocolate gelt, music and more. As the menorah glows, for the first time ever, little dreidels on parachutes will float from 40 feet in the air.

INFO: Menorah Lighting: 2025 Park St.; Atlantic Beach; 516-574-3905; free

4th CANDLE: DEC. 21

4:30 p.m., Family Olive Press Activity

A professional will show families how to make olive oil with the presses. Menorahs were originally lit with oil.

INFO: Aleph Academy: 570 W. Walnut St., Long Beach; chabadofthebeaches.com or 516-574-3905 for more information.

 7:30 p.m., Drinks and Dreidels in Long Beach

Young adults are welcome to gather at Bright Eye Beer Co. for dreidel games and drinks.

INFO: 50 W. Park Ave., Long Beach; 516-543-5736; free but pay for drinks

5th CANDLE: DEC. 22

12:45 to 2:25 p.m., Hanukkah Movie in Commack

Come to a screening of: “Love, Lights, Hanukkah” featuring Ben Savage, Mia Kirschner and Marilu Henner. 

INFO: Suffolk Y JCC: 74 Hauppauge Rd., Commack; 631-462-9800; syjcc.org; free

5 to 6:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m., Ice Skating in the Long Beach Ice Arena

Watch the carving of a 7-foot-tall menorah made of ice, then skate around it along with ice skater dressed as Judah Maccabee. There will be Hanukkah crafts, design a tie dye donut, face painting, sand art, pizza and more.

INFO: Long Beach Municipal Ice Arena (indoors): 150 W. Bay Dr.; 516-574-3905 to register; longbeachny.gov/icearena; fees vary.

6th CANDLE: DEC. 23

6 p.m., Chabad Shabbat Dinner in Long Beach

Register in advance for this family dinner at Temple Beth El of Long Beach.

INFO: 570 W. Walnut St., Long Beach; chabadofthebeaches.com; 516-574-3905.

7th CANDLE: DEC. 24

6:30 p.m., Chanukah Concert in Great Neck

At the Chabad of Great Neck, enjoy a concert featuring Israeli singer Avi Peretz along with dinner.

INFO: 400 East Shore Rd., Great Neck; 516-654-6000; chabadgn.com; Adults $27, kids 10 and older, $10, kids younger than 10, free

8th CANDLE: DEC. 25

4 to 6 p.m., Grand Hanukkah Party in Sag Harbor

At the Center for Jewish Life/Chabad in Sag Harbor, celebrate the last night with carnival activities for kids, a bounce house, arts and crafts, cotton candy, music and menorah lighting.

INFO: 24 Long Island Ave., Sag Harbor; 631-938-6202; cfjewishlife.com; free

7 to 9:30 p.m., Hanukkah on Ice in Great Neck

In the Parkwood Ice Arena, light the menorah, then skate around it on ice. There will be waffles, pizza, donuts, music and more.

INFO: 65 Arrandale Ave., Great Neck; 516-487-4673; gnparks.org; $15 entry fee and $5 to skate

TRENDY HANUKKAH GIFTS

At Judaica of Great Neck Ltd, Hanukkah pajamas are flying off the shelves. Etty Gurevitch, sales assistant/buyer at the shop, says, “It seems people want to wear their Hanukkah celebrations, so the orders have exploded.” The shop also features a new “Perfect Creations” art activity kit. Whether you draw inside the lines or scribble creatively, the art sticker you upon peels off and reveals a perfect Hanukkah picture.

Menorahs with crayons, doughnuts and ice cream candle holders are new this year. For adults, in addition to a new wine bottle menorah, Gurevitch adds, “This year more than ever, compact LED menorahs are popular. They don’t need to be plugged in and are nice to send to college students or use while traveling.” 

The latest version of the Judah Maccabot, Jr. singing/dancing robot is in shops. There are also smart watches that play Hanukkah songs. Mini snow globes come with eight different Hanukkah designs kids can color and insert inside the globe, one for each night. Zion Lion in Roslyn Heights features dreidels shaped like elegant flowers. Yussel’s Place in Merrick offers a wide variety of specially designed Hanukkah candles to support children in need, breast cancer research, autism and soldiers.

WHERE TO FIND GIFTS:

Judaica of Great Neck Ltd: 581-B Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck; 516-482-4729; judaica-of-great-neck.myshopify.com

Yussel’s Place Judaica Gifts and Art: 30A Merrick Ave., Merrick; 516-223-7050; yusselsplace.com

Zion Lion: 390 Willis Ave., Roslyn Heights, 516-437-5466; zionlion.com