Separate Boyle Heights celebrations this year are signaling the beginning and end of Hanukkah, including the first public lighting of a menorah at the Breed Street Shul in recent history.
A Boyle Heights Public Community Menorah Lighting & Hanukkah Celebration took place Sunday –the first night of Hanukkah– on the steps of the historic Breed Street Shul. The event included live music by mariachi and Klezmer musicians; guests were treated to traditional jelly doughnuts and latkes.
The Breed Street Shul ceremony was organized by David Silvas, vice president of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council. Guest speakers included Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who pushed for a nearly $15 million allocation in the state budget to go towards the renovation of buildings on the Breed Street Shul lot.
Those buildings include the large, brick synagogue built in 1923 in what was during the first half of the 20th century the largest Jewish community in the Western United States.
Other speakers included city councilmember Kevin De León and Rabbi Jason Rosner.
See a video of the Breed Street Shul ceremony:
According to chabad.org, Hanukkah or Chanukah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods.
The Jewish celebration is also being observed by Boyle Heights Chavurah, a grassroots Jewish community on the Eastside that meets at the Boyle Heights History Studios, where it has been holding nightly lighting ceremonies. The congregation also offered free buñuelo and latke frying workshops this week, and will cap off the celebration with a free public event on Sunday, Dec. 5.
Sponsored by the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, The Eight Night of Chanukah ceremony will include rituals officiated in Hebrew, English and Ladino Spanish by Rabbi Robin Podolsky and Reb Shmuel Gonzales.
“Join us for the height of the festival celebration when all the lights are lit and at their brightest, and enjoy some free holiday food with us and our local Boyle Heights neighbors,” reads the invitation on the congregation’s Facebook page. The celebration begins at 7 pm at the site at 2026 East First Street.
Participants can also peruse the exhibition “From Brooklyn Ave. to Cesar Chavez: Jewish Histories in Multiethnic Boyle Heights,” permanently on view at the location. An expanded online exhibit can be experienced here.
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