Congregation Beth Tefillah and Chabad Atlanta partnered again this year to bring the joy and light of Chanukah Dec. 10 to Heritage Sandy Springs. But the scene was very different from past years with people wearing masks and social distancing required.
The 6 feet-tall menorah was lit on the first night by Rabbi Isser New, associate director of Chabad of Georgia and associate rabbi of Beth Tefillah. He welcomed in the traditional celebration in an anything-but-traditional time. The staff and officers had wrestled with presenting acceptable programing that would reach everyone and cut through the divisiveness this pandemic time has brought to every community.
The evening included a live DJ and roving entertainers with balloon twisters and aerobatic performers, accompanied by falafel dinners provided by the Adama food truck. The mandatory COVID safety protocols were in place and included wearing masks and social distancing, bringing the community together while following CDC guidelines. Families were seated at their own tables.
“Creating a Chanukah experience for everyone to feel safe is certainly a challenge in these unprecedented and polarized times,” explained Shmaya Friedman, Beth Tefillah’s community engagement director. “But spreading light doesn’t take a day off, let alone a year off.”
Across town, Chabad of North Fulton hosted a Chanukah menorah Lighting this year Dec. 10 at Avalon, but it looked very different than in past years. This was the fourth annual menorah lighting, but unlike the crowd of 500 last year, only 40 were allowed to attend. Guests who called to reserve a complementary admission were asked to practice social distancing and to wear a face mask. The candle lighting on the first night was on Avalon Boulevard in Alpharetta.
Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz director of Chabad of North Fulton, explained, “We must be devoted to keeping the torch burning and to keeping the spirit of Chanukah alive, focusing not on this difficult time, but on maintaining the tradition.”
Chabad of North Fulton will present Chanukah lights at a Menorah Car Parade at Johns Creek and at Newtown Park Sunday and at Broadwell Pavilion in Milton on Monday.
Chabad Intown will also have a Chanukah celebration Sunday, partnering with Ponce City Market and hosting a grand drive-in Chanukah celebration.
This was a safe and exciting way to celebrate Chanukah while staying inside the car. Those who attended could bring their own dinner or pre-order from Fuego Mundo. The celebration included a Grand Menorah Lighting and two short Chanukah films.