The Atlanta Hawks have only one home game during Chanukah, so it’s a good thing the NBA team’s third annual Jewish Heritage Night requires only one of the holiday’s eight nights.
The Chabad of Georgia-organized community event will take place Saturday night, Dec. 12, the seventh night of Chanukah, when the Hawks host one of the league’s elite teams, the San Antonio Spurs, at Philips Arena.
The 8 p.m. tipoff is less than two hours after the end of Shabbat, and the menorah lighting at half court will take place before the game instead of at halftime, creating tight timing.
“It isn’t the best night for us. There’s not much we can do pregame,” said Rabbi Isser New, who worked with Rabbi Levi Mentz on the arrangements. Still, “we’re looking forward to great fun.”
The night won’t repeat last year’s day school basketball doubleheader or the Chanukah family fun zone before the game, but Rabbi New said the kosher concession stand should be back.
Early ticket buyers will have the chance to participate in the funnel of fans the players run through to reach the court, stand with the players during the national anthem, rebound during the pre-game warmups and sit on the bench before the game.
“These are some really fun experiences,” said Emily Hanover, a group sales consultant who worked with Eric Platte on the Hawks’ side.
Tickets, priced at $39, $61 and $115, are available at www.atlantajewishheritage.com.
“This is a cool event for us,” said Hanover, who added that it builds on the team’s strong relationship with the Marcus Jewish Community Center.
She and Rabbi New said they expect a repeat of last year’s turnout of more than 800 Jewish community members. Unlike last year, Rabbi New said, he had to pre-buy 200 tickets to secure the arrangements because of the big opponent on a Saturday night.
The menorah lighting is scheduled for 7:27 p.m.
“The menorah is the symbolism in Jewish tradition of the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. That’s why we light it at night,” Rabbi New said. “The idea of the menorah is to be in as public a setting as possible.”