BE THE LIGHT Spreads Tikkun Olam Throughout Hanukkah

How do you celebrate Hanukkah in pandemic while trying to keep cooped-up kids entertained AND teaching them that the holiday is more than just getting presents? The answer is BE THE LIGHT, the JCC’s Mitzvah-and-Light-focused Hanukkah event presented by and for the entire community.

“For the past several years, we have brought the community together to combine the joyfulness of Hanukkah with acts of loving-kindness,” said Tracey Agranoff, JCC’s BTL organizer. “We recognize that this year is like no other,” she continued. “But what remains the same, is our desire to feel a collective sense of celebration and mitzvot.”

In partnership with PJ Library St. Paul, PJ Library Minneapolis, Talmud Torah of St. Paul, Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, Temple of Aaron, Beth Jacob, Jewish Family Service of St. Paul, and Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Minneapolis, Be the Light celebrates the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and allows us to bring light into the lives of others.

This year’s virtual event will be a combination of hands-on opportunities and Hanukkah-related activities – from the comfort of your home, two drive-in/drive-by opportunities, your computer or phone.

Thursday, December 10

4:15 p.m. Candle Lighting and Welcome to BE THE LIGHT. Click here to view on Facebook

4:45 p.m. Craft Time with PJ Library St. Paul. Click here to join Zoom

Explore how materials found around the home interact with light and get started on your own Hanukkah-inspired window installation! (Parent supervision recommended.)


  • 3-4 different kinds of paper-like material: bubble wrap, wrapping paper, tin foil, wax paper, origami/scrapbooking paper, tissue paper, etc.
  • 2 different ways to attach materials together: yarn/ribbon/string, tape/washi tape, stickers, glue, twist ties.
  • Scissors
  • Light Source – lamp, flashlight or phone

7:30 p.m. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company Presents, Operation: Immigration. Written and performed by Avi Aharoni & Directed by Robert Dorfman. $15

A young Minnesotan searches for information about his late father, an Iranian Jew, and along the way, begins to find himself. A special filmed performance, pay-per-view, online.  For more information, call 651-647-4315. Click here to view other performances and to purchase tickets.

Friday, December 11

3 p.m. Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company, Presents a live reading of The Chanukkah Guest, by Eric Kimmel

The Chanukah Guest, by Jenna Zark, was originally commissioned and produced by the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company. The presentation, with Kim Kivens, Joshua Bagley, and Craig Johnson, is free but reservations are required. To reserve your place with MJTC on zoom, call 651-647-4315

4 p.m. Candle Lighting with Beth Jacob’s Rabbi Adam Rubin

Saturday, December 12

5:30 p.m. Candle Lighting and Hanukkah Sing Along with Ben & Allie

7 p.m. Temple of Aaron Virtual Hanukkah Concert

Join Temple of Aaron, on YouTube, for this fun hour of Hanukkah songs, candle lighting and Havdalah with Cantor Joshua Fineblum accompanied by Tom and Julie Bartsch.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Temple of Aaron YouTube channel.

Sunday, December 13

9-10 a.m. Buddies, Bagels, and Books – Hanukkah Breakfast with PJ Library Minneapolis. Click here to join Zoom

Start your day with PJ Library! Join parents and young children for a casual online gathering as we celebrate Hanukkah with some songs, stories, and conversation. Feel free to wear your pajamas (this includes both kids and adults!)

1-4 p.m. Community Mitzvah Collection at the St. Paul JCC

We will be collecting for The Pajama Project and Hats & Mittens. Items needed – youth size pajamas and new hats & mittens for all ages, but the greatest need is teen sizes.

PJ Library will be collecting new children’s pajamas to donate to children in need through The Pajama Program. Every pajama donation gets you an entry for a drawing to win one of three Hanukkah family gift baskets.

Collection drop off will be held outside the main entrance of the St. Paul JCC. Masks Requested for safety.

Monday, December 14

4:30-5:30 p.m. Virtual Latke Making with Keshet

Click here for the recipe and get ready to make Latkes with Keshet, our Community Shlicha. Click here to register for this event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

5:30-6 p.m. Virtual Hanukkah Game Night with Talmud Torah St. Paul

Join us for a night of Hanukkah games and activities to celebrate the holiday. Click here to register.

Tuesday, December 15

Noon: Light in The Darkness – A Jewish Family Service of St. Paul and Jewish Family & Children’s Service Collaboration Webinar

Be the Light: Staying Positive in Uncertain Times: What has helped you manage the many challenges of the past year? Come to share and learn from others. We will bring in positivity and highlight best practices for staying mentally healthy and strong this winter. Join us for this interactive Q and A and discussion with mental health practitioners and educators of JFS and JFCS. RSVP to [email protected] for the Zoom link.

6:30 p.m. Candle Lighting with Michael Waldman, St. Paul and Sabes JCCs CEO

Hanukkah Laser Light Experience with Total Entertainment 

This Drive-in Light and Sound Experience is a wonderful way to celebrate the 6th night of Hanukkah. From the warmth and security of your car, you will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season!

  • St. Paul JCC Main Parking Lot – Enter on Davern
  • Music will be provided via car radio.
  • Attendees are required to remain in their vehicles throughout the performance.
  • There will be no building access.
  • Space is limited.

Wednesday, December 16

4 p.m. Candle Lighting and More with Rabbi Lynn Liberman, Community Chaplain, Jewish Family Service of St. Paul

6:30-7:30 p.m.  Virtual Candle Light Yoga

End your day with gentle yoga postures and stretches. Unwind from your day and prepare for a restful sleep. Click here to register (three days in advance)

Thursday, December 17

6:30 p.m. Candle Lighting, Evening Story Time, and PJ Party with PJ Library St. Paul. Click here to join.

Daily Mitzvot:

  • Reach out and connect with family and friends
  • Make Hanukkah Cards and send to Sholom Home. Share photos of your works of art with us for an upcoming Hanukkah Feature Story – [email protected]
    • Shaller Family Sholom East Campus
      Attn: Resident Recreation
      740 Kay Ave
      Paul, MN 55102
    • Ackerberg Family Sholom West Campus
      3620 Phillips Parkway
      Louis Park, MN 55426
  • Clean out closets and collect clothing & home goods donations for the Goodwill or other area drop-off sites.
  • Create a one of a kind Tzedakah Box to be used to support an organization in the community. Share your creation with us for an upcoming Hanukkah Feature Story – [email protected]
  • Help a neighbor shovel their driveway or sidewalk.
  • Collect and donate food to your local food shelf.

Create “Car Mitzvah Bags” for people in need: Be better prepared when you encounter a person asking for help, via a hand-written sign, at an intersection or freeway-ramp entrance. Instead of fumbling frantically for spare change, have a supply of care kits — sturdy, resealable plastic bags filled with necessities — all set to hand out. CLICK HERE for Car Mitzvah Bag ideas.