COVID Can’t Dim Chanukah Lights

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Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue

Gathering with friends and family is always a Chanukah tradition (as well as eating latkes). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, both the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue and Chabad of Malibu curtailed public gatherings as the Jewish Festival of Lights holiday was celebrated this week. MJCS’s Chanukah event is one of its most well attended gatherings of the year; however, 2020’s was celebrated by members online for candle lighting and songs. A drive-through holiday event to collect clothing and books was postponed. 

Chabad has always celebrated publicly, which was out of the question this year during the pandemic. Chabad continued its tradition of placing a large menorah on Pacific Coast Highway at Webb Way but, as Rabbi Levi Cunin of Chabad said, “This Chanukah is so different than any other Chanukah.” Chabad set up virtual events last week in Point Dume and a few other locales. Celebrants could drive by and pick up a small box of pre-packed gifts and a menorah. And—in an unusual twist—a week before the holiday, a truck was donated to the organization, which it will use to deliver furniture to the needy. 

“We’re going to bring Chanukah to people—to their homes,” Cunin said. The truck was transformed into what he called a “dreidel mobile.” The truck lights up and plays music. Chabad drives the truck to the virtual events and then lets members know it will show up at their homes afterward. “The joy,” Cunin exclaimed. “They come out of their homes. Imagine a disco came to your home. They’re dancing. I feel as if I’ve been given the job of an angel.” The Rabbi explained some people ventured out for the “dreidel mobile” who had not left their house in nine months.