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Everything’s Illuminated: Hanukkah Markets Decked With Bows and Challah

by Elyse Glickman

Dec 1, 2019

Vadim Lerner | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

The fabled Christmas markets of Germany, Switzerland and Austria not only entice travelers to visit Europe, but prompt North American communities with ties to those countries to stage their own versions of those “Old World” festivities. On the other hand, as diversity defines the “New World” — even in the 21st century — it makes perfect sense Jewish groups and communities roll out their own twists on tradition with Hanukkah markets and fairs. Everything one needs for holiday fun is all here, including home-baked goodies, hand-crafted gifts, live entertainment and welcoming family-focused environments.


While American Jewish families have attended Christmas markets to enjoy the color of the season, aromas of fresh-baked treats and meet ups with friends and neighbors, Hanukkah markets have just as much to offer attendees from all backgrounds. Some of the gifts packaged in these celebrations include a golden opportunity to expose children to different traditions and seasonal foods as well as local charities and community organizations that may benefit from the sales and gifting-ready goods.


Here are a few gatherings across the United States you may want to check out if you happen to be traveling over the holidays and are interested in taking in some local flavor in different Jewish communities:


Studio City, California

Temple Beth Hillel kicks off its annual Festival of Lights with its Chanukah Holiday Boutique from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
This hall will be decked with creative and talented vendors selling jewelry, clothing, Chanukah supplies, jams, oils, art glass, soaps, candles, pet collars and other gift items. The Gourmet Bake Shoppe and boutique food court, meanwhile, will sell fresh coffee and plenty of comfort food, including bagels, cream cheese spreads, homemade latkes, salads and sandwiches. The temple will also stage a Chanukah Family Festival Dec. 15 with food, games, music and fun.

Raleigh, North Carolina

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec, 8, Temple Beth Or’s Handmade Hanukkah Market in its Satisky Hall offers its take on wintertime southern hospitality with seasonal foods as well as a showcase of Jewish artisans displaying and selling their work, ranging in style from textiles and photography to jewelry, pottery and much more. This event is free to attend and open to everyone.


Handicraft Market. Photo: Vadim Lerner | Dreamstime.com

Washington, D.C.

The Edlavich Jewish Community Center in the nation’s capital goes big this holiday with a variety of events highlighting the many cultures that exist within the greater Jewish community. On Dec. 4, its Hipster Hanukkah is a night of cake pop making classes, Make your Own Travel Menorah class, and a cornucopia of arts, crafts and food vendors. Its Festival of Lasers on Dec. 6 brings the festival of lights to a new, fast-paced level.



The Jewish United Fund of Chicago joins forces with jBaby Chicago and PJ Library for a Festival of Lights on Dec. 8 tailored especially for families. Registration on the website includes a two-hour private morning event at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier, plus full access to the museum all day, donut decorating, maker-space menorahs, making dreidels of clay and other creative pursuits.



The Aaron Family JCC presents its annual Hanukah Hoopla on Dec. 8, which will feature a children’s area for arts and crafts activities, the PJ Library Story Walk, green screen photography, live DJ, vendor marketplace and seasonal foods created by some of the community’s groups, like the Maccabi Teens, selling snacks and sodas.


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