Virtually every Jewish temple or synagogue in the San Fernando Valley plans Hanukkah celebrations this year for children and families.
The events range from arts and crafts bazaars and talent shows to magic acts and family teaching sessions during the holidays, which span eight days, beginning at sundown Dec. 8.
"It's a season when everyone is celebrating something, so it also gives us an opportunity to learn about each other's holidays and do some creative celebrating," said Eudi Tracey, who is on the staff of Kol Tikvah Temple in Woodland Hills.
One of the more unusual celebrations in the Valley is a joint holiday dinner and singing program planned by Kol Tikvah and Calvary Baptist Church in Woodland Hills. It begins at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 in Kol Tikvah's social hall, 20400 Ventura Blvd. Call (818) 886-6143.
The largest celebration each year in the Valley is the menorah-lighting service at the center court in Sherman Oaks Galleria, which last year drew a crowd of 5,000. This year's service begins at 6 p.m. Dec. 12, with Rabbi Menachem Bryski of Chabad of Tarzana officiating. Bryski said the event "is a celebration of religious freedom and Jewish identity, of life over darkness."
Similar services are planned by Chabad of Tarzana on Dec. 13 at Northridge Fashion Center and Dec. 14 at the Promenade at Woodland Hills, each at 6 p.m. Call (818) 881-2352.
Lighting the menorah commemorates a biblical miracle in which a small amount of oil burned for eight days in a temple.
"It's important for the young people to hear these stories for historical background and understand the oppression of our past," Bryski said. He is also preparing some hands-on activities for families to do in Jewish services beginning at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 12 at Chabad of Tarzana, 18211 Burbank Blvd.
Temple Judea, a Reform temple and school at 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana, plans a special family service at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. Call (818) 987-2616.
Ner Maarav, a Conservative congregation at 5180 Yarmouth Ave., Encino, will sponsor a children's talent show and party from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 12. For reservations, call (818) 345-7833.
Valley Beth Israel, 13060 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, will celebrate Hanukkah with a family Shabbat dinner starting at 6 p.m. Dec. 3. Reservations are required; call (818) 782-2281.
Homemade applesauce, latkes, jelly doughnuts, salad and chicken will be served Dec. 13 at Temple Beth Ami, 18449 Kittridge St., Reseda, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Cost for the family event is $11 for adults and $8 for children under 6. Call (818) 343-4624 for reservations.
"Little Orphan Dreidel" is a play written and performed by the first-grade children of Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino. The youngsters will take the stage at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at the school, 15739 Ventura Blvd.
The Valley Beth Shalom Hebrew School at the same address plans a Family Education Day with workshops, family games and magic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 12. Call (818) 788-6000.
Rabbi Sally Owens at Temple B'nai Hayim, 4302 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks, promises a full-scale family gathering during the Jewish holidays. Call (818) 788-4664.
Julie Silver, a Jewish guitarist from Boston, has been booked to provide a family sing-along program at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 5 at Temple Solael Reform, 6601 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. The temple is also having a Bring-Your-Own-Menorah family service, geared to families with Jewish and non-Jewish members, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Its second annual Tot Shabbat will be at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 10 for preschoolers and their parents. Call (818) 348-3885.
Chabad of Agoura plans three programs featuring jugglers, magicians and the traditional lighting of the menorah at various locations during the holidays. The first program will be at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley. Two other programs will be offered at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Oaks mall, 382 W. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, and 4 p.m. Dec. 12 at MountainGate Plaza, 1135 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley. Call (818) 991-0991.
Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, plans several events, including a large Hanukkah fund-raising boutique Dec. 7 offering a range of gifts; candle lighting and music every night at sundown from Dec. 8 to 15, and a music festival from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 10. Call (818) 766-9426.
Temple Beth Hillel of Reform Judaism, 12326 Riverside Drive, North Hollywood, plans candlelight ceremonies at 7:30 every night beginning Dec. 8. Call (818) 763-9148.
Temple Ahavat Shalom Early Childhood Education Center presents "Hanukkah at Home," a celebration in song and story featuring Ruthie Buell, Dan Crow, Fred Sokolow, John Wood and Pam Wood. The program is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the temple, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. Admission is $10 general, $8 children. Call (818) 701-1018.
At least a dozen other Valley Jewish organizations plan events to mark the Hanukkah season, and representatives say information about them will be available by telephone.