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Jewish Center of the Hamptons’ Pop-Up Chanukah Lights East Hampton

Rabbi Josh Franklin explains JCOH's new, community-wide series of events.

The holiday season is filled, quite literally, with light. For Chanukah, light has a very specific ceremonial purpose, but also means something quite significant beyond its religious purpose. Rabbi Josh Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons has used the light of Chanukah as the driving force behind a new, community-wide series of events that he hopes will make the holidays brighter for everyone on the East End.

The Jewish Center’s Pop-Up Chanukah series will run from the first night of Chanukah on December 22 to the last night on December 29. “Throughout the year, we partner with a lot of different organizations in various capacities,” says Franklin. “We have friends all around the Hamptons, friends who are community members and also people who do a lot to support the community overall. So we thought would do events each night of Chanukah at various locations throughout East Hampton.”

Rabbi Josh Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Photo: Wil Weiss
Rabbi Josh Franklin of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. Photo: Wil Weiss

Festivities kick off at Nick & Toni’s and travel to The Clubhouse, the Jewish Center, even Main Beach. Each night will feature specials and fun for the whole family. “The idea is, every single night of Chanukah there should be a place for you to go, not just for you to light the menorah by yourself and with your family, but to find community this holiday season and join in the spirit of Chanukah with the entire Jewish community in the Hamptons.” Pop-Up Chanukah will also include the Jewish Center’s beloved Shabbat on the Beach on December 27, a Jewish Hamptons staple during the summer recreated with a bonfire and special service for the winter.

Franklin believes the light of Chanukah is vital to getting through the dark winter months. “I think Chanukah resonates with so many people because it speaks to this really great metaphor of bringing light into the world when there is a time of darkness,” he says. “Physically it’s dark. There’s a reason why Chanukah happens around the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year. Not only do we need to bring physical light into the world, but we need to bring spiritual light into our world, as well. I think that’s pretty universal around religions. It’s not just about being dark outside. It’s dark times. People are affected by this time of year by Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a little bit depressing, and light really rejuvenates our spirits.”

Jewish Center of the Hamptons exterior
Jewish Center of the Hampton, Courtesy JCOH

Light is, of course, also a vital part of the religious history behind the holiday. “Chanukah works on multiple levels. One of the ways is the story that is told about the Maccabees, who revolted against tyranny and had a miraculous victory and rededicated the temple after it was desecrated,” Franklin explains. “And so in one way it’s about the idea of overcoming tyranny and the dark forces around the world, and in the other way it’s about the lighting of the menorah and physical light that is in the world, miraculous light that’s in the world and the idea of counting up with that light, increasing the light each consecutive day which the rabbis put on par with increasing in holiness each successive day of Chanukah.”

Franklin hopes that everyone, from people who are religious to those people who are looking for something fun to do on these winter evenings, will come to the Pop-Up Chanukah events. “Chanukah is a low-bar entry holiday that has huge returns in spirituality,” he says. “Anyone can buy a menorah and light the candles. It gets even better when you do it with family, and even better than that when you do it with community. We hope that people on the East End take a look at our Pop-Up Chanukah events and find ways to engage with the Jewish community this holiday season.”

For more information on Pop-Up Chanukah, visit jcoh.org.

Jewish Center of the Hamptons sanctuary
Jewish Center of the Hamptons sanctuary, Courtesy JCOH

Pop-Up Chanukah Schedule

First Night: December 22, 5 p.m.
Nick & Toni’s,136 Main Street, East Hampton
Special Chanukah menu items available

Second Night: December 23, 5 p.m.
The Clubhouse, 174 Daniels Hole Road, East Hampton
Free $10 gaming card for the arcade

Third Night: December 24, 5 p.m.
Jewish Center, 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton
Special menorah lighting

Fourth Night: December 25, 5 p.m.
Jewish Center, 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton
Special menorah lighting

Fifth Night: December 26, 5 p.m.
Stuart’s Seafood, 41 Oak Lane, Amagansett
Latkes by Charlotte Sasso

Sixth Night: December 27, 6 p.m.
Shabbat on the Beach, 101 Ocean Avenue, East Hampton
Holiday by the bonfire

Seventh Night: December 28, 5 p.m.
Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton
Lighting outside the local landmark

Eighth Night: December 29, 5 p.m.
Rabbi Franklin’s House, address upon RSVP
Enjoy Rabbi Franklin’s famous homemade sufganiyot

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