Chabad of Bakersfield, an outreach organization dedicated to creating a positive Jewish experience for the Jewish men, women and children in Bakersfield, is hoping to expand its outreach program a little further into the community by hosting a pair of Hanukkah celebrations open to those of all walks of faith.
On Sunday, the organization will hold its 10th annual menorah lighting ceremony at The Marketplace, an event that draws around 200 people -- including Mayor Harvey Hall -- each year.
The event kicks off with a blessing by Rabbi Shmuel Schlanger, followed by a lighting of the menorah, traditional Hanukkah songs led by the rabbi and his band, and the distribution of small presents such as dreidels for the kids. They will also be serving the traditional Hanukkah treat of doughnuts. Aside from being a tasty treat, foods that have been fried in oil (such as another popular Hanukkah treat, latkes) celebrate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil and are a staple of Jewish holiday celebrations.
For those who aren't familiar with the celebration of Hanukkah and its traditions, pamphlets will be available to explain all aspects of the ceremony, and Rabbi Schlanger will also act as a guide, narrating the menorah lighting and its significance as he goes.
"Even if you've never been to a menorah lighting before, you'll follow why and what we're doing, and get to hear the story," said Esther Schlanger, co-director of the Chabad Center.
The organization will also be hosting another family-friendly holiday event on Wednesday, with its Hanukkah Wonderland. The event includes a lighting of the menorah, music, Hanukkah crafts and more delicious traditional treats such as latkes, doughnuts and applesauce. One of the biggest highlights will be the fake snow that the organization is bringing in for the kids to play.
"It's basically a big family Hanukkah party," said Esther Schlanger.
Schlanger said it was important to Chabad of Bakersfield to make sure that these events were open to the public.
"We want to spread the light and concept of Hanukkah. It's about how a small group of people overcame very large oppression ... they fought back and won. And there's also the miracle of the menorah. It's really about the concept of freedom and bringing light into the world, not just keeping it at home."