By Rachel Fayne Gruskin

An ugly sweater contest and a gelt-eating competition helped The Temple get an early start on Chanukah celebrations with families and young professionals Tuesday night, Dec. 6, at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

“It was an evening in which our Temple community was able to socialize as well as learn underneath a beautiful backdrop,” said Summer Jacobs, The Temple’s engagement associate.

The night at Mershon Hall began with activities for kids and families, including Chanukah songs, crafts, and the gelt contest, narrowly won by Temple Breman Religious School student Ethan Droze.

The school-night transition to more young professionals began with an ugly sweater fashion show hosted by Rabbi Steven Rau. Children, adults and clergy walked the runway in their holiday worst.

Throughout the event, open to Temple members and nonmembers, the holiday lights around the garden were on display — from the Levy Parterre, a waterfall surrounded by lights and topped with a Chihuly glass sculpture, to the Reflecting Pond, where the hair of the famed Botanical Garden Earth Goddess was lighted in shades of blue, to the tall trees in the Rose Garden, topped with holiday-colored snowflakes.

“Our goal was to create a night of meaning making for our Temple friends, as well as anyone else seeking connection with our vibrant community,” Jacobs said.

Photos by Rachel Fayne Gruskin