Christmas shows might be the 800-pound gorillas stomping on the December arts scene, but this year Congregation Adath Jeshurun is getting in on the action with “Chanukah Chappens,” a multi-genre Chanukah show at The Bard’s Town. The evening’s two performances (7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) will feature storytelling, music, comedy, poetry and, of course, the lighting of the first candle on the menorah.
Saturday is the first night of Chanukah, the annual eight-day festival of lights that celebrates the liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of a small cache of oil that somehow burned for eight nights, long enough for more oil to be produced for the menorah. As religious holidays go, Chanukah isn’t analogous to Christmas in the Jewish liturgical year—it’s more of a minor festival, not as important as Rosh Hashanah, Passover or Yom Kippur—but it has become an important celebration of Jewish identity in the U.S., where Christmas celebrations can be just a bit overwhelming between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
Bringing the Chanukah celebration out of the synagogue and into the bar is an innovative move for Adath Jeshurun, as it positions a Chanukah production as a viable entertainment alternative to secularized Christmas programs. Chanukah Chappens will feature music by cantors David Lipp, Sharon Hordes and Adelle Nicholson, with Jennifer Diamond; storytelling by Bob Sachs, stand-up sets by comedians Jason Gilbert and Raanan Hershberg and a reading by poet Michael Jackman.
For folks looking for an interfaith production, Juergen Tossman’s ”The Last Hanukkah Christmas” runs at The Bunbury Theatre December 13-23. The show opens toward the end of Chanukah, true, but the December arts calendar makes its own rules. The show, dubbed a “Mayan calendar mishap,” reunites Bunbury characters Klaus Klurman and Hyman Goldstein for some holiday/end-of-the-world laughs.
And no Chanukah arts post would be complete without the video of Louisville’s own Brigid Kaelin’s “Dreidel’s Day Out (Blue Dreidel No. 9),” significant as perhaps the only alt-country Chanukah song to feature yodeling.