Celebrations, Culinary Treats and Games Light Up Chanukah at These Locations

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Chanukah, the “Festival of Lights,” commemorates the victory of the Maccabees against the Sellucid Greeks and the miracle of oil that lasted eight nights during the re-sanctification of the Temple in Jerusalem. Remembering this miracle, a menorah (or Hanukkiah) is lit for eight nights with one candle added each nights until all eight (plus the “helper” Shamash candle) glow brightly.

Here are some places where you can join in the festivities during the eight-day holiday.

Las Vegas

You might not associate Sin City with a Chanukah celebration, but there are many restaurants, resorts and other venues adding holiday cheer with Vegas-style fêtes. 

Menorah,The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

On Saturday, December 4 The Venetian Resort Las Vegas will conduct a grand menorah lighting ceremony. In an event open to the public, Rabbi Harlig of Chabad of Southern Nevada will light a giant menorah in front of The Venetian’s outdoor canal. The event will also feature live music and entertainment.  

Menorah lighting, The Venetian Resort Las Vegas

In a Vegas rendition of a dreidel game, Chanukah revelers can enjoy the holiday at the Emporium Arcade Bar at Las Vegas’s new AREA15 immersive entertainment complex. Each guest will receive 10 free game tokens during the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Sports lovers aren’t left out in Las Vegas. Before the Vegas Golden Knights’ ice hockey game on December 5, there will be a menorah lighting that is free and open to the public outside T-Mobile Arena at Toshiba Plaza.  

One Steakhouse Hanukkah meal ©Jeff Ragazzo

Befitting Las Vegas’s status as one of the country’s premier dining destinations, diners can enjoy Chanukah treats throughout the holiday at One Steakhouse, located at the new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Prepared by Executive Chef Patrick Munster, the restaurant serves up a special Hanukkah dinner with seared domestic lamb strip loin with toasted barley, escarole, potato-carrot latkes, roasted garlic gremolata and currant lamb jus

One Market matzoh ball soup, courtesy One Market

Away from the Strip at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, Bottiglia Cucina & Enoteca offers a special Hanukkah menu available for all eight days of Chanukah. Choose a complete feast with challah bread with honey butter; shaved carrot and radish salad with arugula and citrus vinaigrette; braised brisket with red wine demi-glace, rainbow carrots and mashed potatoes; and a Hanukkah-appropriate apple pie knish with cinnamon crème anglaise.

Hanukkah sweets, courtesy Pinkbox Doughnuts

For that late-night (or early morning) munch, Pinkbox Doughnuts® brightens Las Vegas Hanukkah celebrations with festive treats that draw inspiration from sweet traditions. Available through the day after Christmas, the sweets collection includes Hanukkah PEE-WEEZ®, glazed vanilla cake bites rolled in Hanukkah sprinkles; Hanukkah Jellies, powdered sugar-coated raised shells filled with homemade raspberry jelly; the Hanukkah Ring, a white frosted, glazed vanilla cake topped with Hanukkah sprinkles; and the Star of David, a white frosted raised Star of David topped with blue sprinkles.

Chicago

Families aren’t overlooked in Chicago. Perfect for all ages for a home celebration, Chicago’s Beatrix restaurants’ new Hanukkah Cookie Decorating Kit comes with six Hanukkah-themed sugar cookies, four piping bags with icing (dark blue, light blue, white and yellow) and sprinkles. Local pick-up or delivery is available from the River North, Streeterville and Fulton Market locations.

If you’d rather take the gang out to dinner, Mediterranean restaurant Ema from Chef CJ Jacobson offers up a special Hanukkah menu with updated traditional favorites. Order the likes of Parmesan, Potato & Brussels Sprout Latkes and Grilled Harissa Spiced Sea Bass with roasted garlic yogurt sauce, pine nuts, herb salad and grilled lemon. 

Oakland, California

Oakland’s Pomella restaurant hosts a fun and innovative Hanukkah festival that highlights a local vendor every night (and light) of the holiday. 

First light — Pomella offers a Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich in cooperation with contemporary Israeli caterer Bishulim SF. The schnitzel will be served on a house-made challah roll with matbucha (Moroccan tomato salad), fried eggplant and hummus, served with pickled veggies and tahini sauce.

Second light – Pomella shows off its own culinary talents with special multi-flavor rugelach. Choose your favorite, fruity raspberry, almond and chocolate or tangy apricot, walnut and chocolate.

Third light – San Francisco deli Mark ‘n Mike’s will be serving their popular Reuben Latkes.

Fourth light – California spirit-maker Absinthia will offer absinthe tastings. 

Fifth light — Wines are highlighted at a tasting with Covenant, California’s premier kosher winery.

Sixth and seventh lights — It’s a sweet night with hand-made sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts) filled with strawberry-raspberry jam from Oakland’s Donut Savant.

Seventh light (last Sunday of Hanukkah, December 5) — Pomella will partner with bagel phenom Boichik for a bagel brunch. Order one of the Berkeley shop’s specials, a Merguez Bagel Sandwich with fried egg, feta aioli and harissa on a sesame bagel or a house-made gravlax platter with pastrami spices, dill cream cheese and all the toppings.

Eighth daySolomon’s of Sacramento will serve a Thai-inspired fried chicken sandwich with red chili curry kewpie aioli and turmeric pickles with fresh cabbage and cilantro. 

Los Angeles

Genghis Cohen Gelty Pleasures, courtesy Genghis Cohen

Genghis Cohen, LA’s cult-favorite New York-style Chinese restaurant, celebrates Hanukkah by launching a limited-edition Hanukkah ice cream, the Gelty Pleasure. Inspired by the gold-wrapped chocolate coins called gelt given out during Hanukkah, owners Marc Rose and Med Abrous of Call Mom have teamed up with Coolhaus ice cream and Valerie Confections to create the rich dessert of dark chocolate ganache ice cream with a shimmery gold swirl. 

Latke plate courtesy Wise Sons Deli

To create your own at-home Chanukah feast, Wise Sons Deli has a special holiday menu that pairs classic Jewish recipes with a Californian perspective. Choose from elevated classics including braided challah, chicken broth with matzo balls, potato latkes, roast chicken, winter veggies, cinnamon or chocolate babka, rugelach and chocolate chip cookies. The menu is available at all California locations. 

San Antonio

Chanukah on the River Walk courtesy Visit San Antonio

The Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning welcomes you to the 24th annual Chanukah on the River festival along San Antonio’s famous River Walk. The December 5 celebration is a joyous day filled with cruises along the river, music by the Moshav Band, and prizes for all ages. A Chanukah menorah will be lit at the Pearl Shade Structure each night of Chanukah.

New York City

New York has a wealth of experiences designed for celebrating Chanukah. Many restaurants offer special menus or add latkes, brisket and sufganiyot to their menus.

In addition, two of the United States’ largest menorahs stand tall in the city and are lit each of the eight nights of Chanukah, one in Manhattan at the southern edge of Central Park at Grand Army Plaza and the other in Brooklyn at its own Grand Army Plaza. Each menorah is 32-feet-tall and is made of 4000 pounds of steel.

Two museums celebrate the holiday with fun activities:

Hanukkah Hunt Gallery at The Jewish Museum  – On December 5, families can explore the Manhattan museum’s collection of menorahs from around the world. Children are encouraged to hunt through the collection, draw their discoveries in a sketchbook, and learn about the history of holiday through the years. In observance of health requirements, timed tickets are required.

11th Annual Latke Festival at the Brooklyn Museum  – One of NYC’s most distinctive holiday tastings, the Latke Festival on December 6 is a charity event that celebrates the most delicious and most creative potato pancakes. Past winners have included Chef Dima Martseniuk of Veselka for “Best Vegetarian Latke” and Chef David Burke for “Best Newcomer Latke.”

Long Island

Deko cocktails for Chanukah courtesy Deko

Lest you think that Chanukah isn’t celebrated with some bubbly or other special libation, Dekō Cocktails is a new, certified kosher bottled cocktail company out of Long Island, New York with two beverages introduced just in time for the holiday. The ready-to-drink Bee’s Knees and Gold Rush cocktails use the fresh produce of the North Fork to create classic cocktails with a Long Island twist. Order these online for shipping anywhere or for delivery in NYC and Long Island. They also make a perfect hostess gift with their opulent Art Deco design bottles.

Sarasota

HANDS ON HANUKKAH, The Mall at UTC Sarasota
Sinai Rocks
Menorah at Saks Fifth Avenue, The Mall at UTC

A jam-packed schedule of activities, HANDS ON HANUKKAH is a community event taking place at The Mall at UTC in Sarasota during the eight days of Hanukkah. The family-friendly events include arts and crafts, raffles and giveaways, food and photos, storytelling, live musical performances and a nightly lighting of the Hanukkiah. You’ll have a chance to make an edible dreidel in addition to playing with dreidels with your family. The program, produced by Temple Sinai Sarasota, is geared to all ages and includes a daily mitzvah, a charity component.

Miami

Hanukkah Matata cocktail and menorah courtesy La Cocina Cocteleria

Hialeah is the place to be for a non-stop, adults-only Chanukah party. La Cocina Coctelería will debut Miami’s first-ever Hanukkah-themed “pop-up” bar, Hanukkah Harry’s Enchanted Forest. Offering a bright blue escape from customary red and green embellishments, guests will enjoy a Hanukkah winter wonderland with blue and white string lights, Star of David and dreidel ornaments, lighted menorah décor and a “Mensch on a Bench.”  

The matching cocktail list, sponsored by E11even Vodka, includes holiday-inspired Manischewitz Punch (E11even Vodka, Manischewitz, OJ and club soda), Hanukkah Matata (E11even Vodka, espresso, simple syrup, coffee beans, and a black and white cookie), Doc Brown Goes Back To The De11i (E11even Vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, Angostura bitters, mint leaves and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda) and B11oody Bubbe (E11even Vodka, Bloody Mary Mix and black salt). 

Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights film will be projected on a loop and a live DJ will perform on Saturday nights. As part of traditional Hanukkah gift giving, guests will receive E11even Vodka swag bags each evening. 

The Bahamas

If an island vacation is calling your name this Chanukah, you can grab an easy ferry from Fort Lauderdale and observe the holiday in the Bahamas thanks to the celebration at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort.

Atlantis Paradise Island ©Chris Villano

Mixing Bahamian hospitality with holiday tradition, Atlantis’s Festival of Lights illuminates the night sky throughout Chanukah. Each evening as the sun sets, menorahs will be lit across the resort. On December 2, there will also be a Grand Chanukah celebration with kosher food and drinks, a traditional lighting ceremony, and a presentation from a Rabbi on global Chanukah celebrations. 

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