Seniors, reserve a spot on your social calendars for all the fun events surrounding the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, celebrated this year from Dec. 11-19.
If you haven't had your daily dose of "Fiddler on the Roof," don't miss the Ventura Klezmer Band Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m., at the Camarillo Community Center, 1605 E. Burnley St. This free annual Hanukkah party is sponsored by the B'nai B'rith Lodge 3118 of Camarillo. A first-night lighting of the menorah will inaugurate the program, which along with the Klezmer music features a folk dance presentation and refreshments. For information, call (805) 388-2511.
"Many older people remember the music from their childhood," said Kathy Fink, the band's clarinet player. "There's a certain deep feeling when you play the music, as if the years have telescoped and you feel at one with your heritage," said trombone player Peter Jaffe, 55.
Klezmer bands, which feature the clarinet and brass instruments, originated in Eastern Europe during the last century when groups of itinerant musicians played at weddings. Klezmer music, considered a type of Jewish folk music, was brought to this country where it became popular between 1900 and 1940.
"Jewish orchestras," such as that of Abe Schwartz, recorded popular Yiddish songs during the '20s. According to Fink, "Klezmer music influenced American jazz and music of the American theater, such as 'Fiddler on the Roof.' "
The 12 members of the Ventura Klezmer Band, which includes three retired people, range in age from their 20s to 70s. The band includes a lawyer, a music teacher, a pharmacist, a college math professor, and two Russian immigrants who are graduates of the Moscow Conservatory of Music. Their vocalist, Joane Baumer, is a gynecologist, who is often beeped during rehearsals. Then the group has to wing it while she delivers a baby.
Be prepared for a good time rocking to old favorites like "Bei Mir Bistu Shein" and "Tumbalalaika." Klezmer music will knock your lox off. But remember to duck when Baumer tosses the bagels!
A sampling of Hanukkah parties:
* Chabad of the Conejo will sponsor a series of community menorah kindling ceremonies in Camarillo, Oxnard, Fillmore, Moorpark, Port Hueneme, Simi Valley, Ojai and Santa Paula. For the time and place in your area, call (818) 991-0991.
* Chabad also invites all senior citizens to three Hanukkah parties in Thousand Oaks, featuring food and entertainment: Dec. 11--Castle Hill Retirement Village, 3575 N. Moorpark Road, 4 p.m.; Dec. 18--Hillcrest Royale Retirement Center, 190 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, 1:30 p.m., and the Hillcrest Inn, 405 Hodencamp Road., 6 p.m. For information or transportation, call Chabad (818) 991-0991.
* Dec. 15--The "Sixty Something" social group of Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, will sponsor a "Hanukkah Gala" at 6 p.m., featuring professional entertainment and a hot catered dinner. Cost: $7.50 for members and $10 for non-members. Payment must be received by Dec. 9. For details or transportation, call (805) 496-1894 or (805) 498-4876.
* Dec. 19--The '50+ Club' of Temple Etz Chaim, 1080 Janss Road, plans a Hanukkah luncheon beginning at 10:30 a.m. Expect lots of latkes, bingo, prizes and entertainment by the Thousand Oaks Vaudeville Group. A speaker from the city of Thousand Oaks will address issues of interest to seniors. Cost: 50 cents for club members and $1 for non-members. All seniors welcome. For information, call (805) 987-6729.
* On Dec. 19, "The Prime Timers" senior social group will feature a Hanukkah program and menu at its luncheon meeting, 12 p.m. at Temple Beth Torah, 7620 Foothill Road Cost: $3. For information or transportation, call (805) 659-5144.
Involvement opportunities for seniors:
* Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills sponsors a weekly discussion group, "Judaism in the Headlines," in private homes in Westlake Village on Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. Also at Temple Beth Haverim, two Havurah social groups for seniors with common interests are forming now for January. For details, call Temple Beth Haverim (818) 991-7111.
* On the fourth Friday of every month, Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks sponsors free bus transportation to bring any senior from Camarillo to attend the Temple's Friday night Sabbath services. The bus leaves Leisure Village on Santa Rosa Road in Camarillo at 7 p.m. and arrives back in Camarillo about 10:30 p.m. This month, the fourth Friday falls on the 28th. Non-residents of Leisure Village should call (805) 987-6729 to set up bus pickup.