JDS celebrates Hanukkah through virtual events

CESJDS families joined together to celebrate Hanukkah with several virtual events including candle lighting.

photo courtesy of Creative Commons

CESJDS families joined together to celebrate Hanukkah with several virtual events including candle lighting.

Lincoln Aftergood, Reporter

This week, CESJDS has hosted a slew of virtual events to celebrate Hanukkah and bring the community closer together through various activities. The Zoom calls included activities in which participants learned to bake cupcakes and healthy latkes, and played bingo.

Dorie Ravick (‘01), parent of second-grader Judah and first-grader Zoe, and Special Programs and Activities Coordinator, organized most of the events in hopes that people could substitute being together in-person with entertaining Zoom calls.

“We realized that we could take advantage of the fact that everyone has become so comfortable with Zoom and things of that sort,” Ravick said. “Whereas we usually would do an assembly in each division, why not make it entirely community-wide, and that way we can feel even more connected to one another?”

At each event, Hanukkah candles were lit in honor of JDS staff or teachers who have been nominated for their Jewish leadership or values. Honored nominees include Lower School Principal Rabbi Bellas, school nurses and maintenance staff.

Parent of second-grader Maital Kugler and High School Learning Specialist, Brett Kugler, attended one of the events with his daughter and was glad to see that she enjoyed it.

“[My daughter] definitely had a great time and stayed focused on the screen throughout, never really wanted to get up and move away,” Kugler said. “The content was engaging, and I thought that the hosts and emcees were wonderful, they were fun. They kept it light and enjoyable.”

While Sunday’s cupcake bake was held for prospective new JDS families, the rest of the events were attended by dozens of current JDS students and parents.

Kugler believes the school’s administrators are doing a good job of replacing in-person events with fun virtual ones for families.

“I think nothing takes the place of being in-person, but I think there are many ways to enhance our events virtually, and I think the school has been great about being creative and finding different ways to make the events places where people want to show up,” Kugler said.

Middle school Jewish text teacher Michael Rubin co-hosted one of the Hanukkah events and was pleased to see how many people participated. 

“I don’t think you can call any event where you had 70 plus families anything but a success. People seemed to be happy, and even after the first bingo you had people still wanting to get their moment of glory,” Rubin said.

Ravick believes that the events will have been worthwhile if people connect and are able to enjoy Hanukkah together virtually.

“Even if we had a handful of people attend or feel like they were a part of the JDS community even from afar … it will be successful,” Ravick said. “We just want to see people be able to celebrate the holiday and feel connected to JDS and really just enjoy the holiday together.”