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Hanukkah celebration aims to connect Jewish families north of Richmond Hill

Sunday’s event in Bradford will celebrate Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which runs Dec. 2 to 10 this year
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One of the organizers of a Hanukkah celebration this weekend in Bradford West Gwillimbury hopes it will be the first of many activities that bring Jewish families together north of Richmond Hill.

With large and well-established Jewish community centres in the Toronto area, including the closest one in Vaughan, Bradford residents are hoping to start a network of support so local families do not have to travel hours for cultural events.

“This event is giving an opportunity to all those families who might not be able to drive all the way to the centre. There (can be) events close to where they live,” said Lana Barkan.

Sunday’s event will celebrate Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, which runs Dec. 2 to 10 this year, and Barkan said families are expected to come from Bradford, Newmarket, Aurora and Barrie.

“This particular event is the first time the JCC (Jewish Community Centre) is branching north. This is to establish our presence in the north,” she said. “There is a Jewish community north of Richmond Hill, and this community is very much regarded and respected.”

Everyone is welcome at the Nov. 25 event at the Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre, including people who are not Jewish, Barkan said.

The family-friendly event will have arts and crafts, such as dreidel and menorah making, olive press workshops, and a children's choir will perform. It is also tradition for adults to give kids gold and silver chocolate coins called Hanukkah gelt.

There will also be plenty of snacks, including latkes and sufganiyot, or jelly-filled donuts.

“Hanukkah is a very positive, very happy holiday,” Barkan said. “It’s all about getting the community together to meet, to make new friends, and to feel the spirit of the holiday.”

According to tradition, a small band of Jewish people, led by the Maccabees, defeated a powerful army and reclaimed a holy temple in Jerusalem. They lit a menorah and, miraculously, its one-day supply of oil lasted eight days.

The connection to oil is why there will be fried food at this weekend’s event, said Barkan.

“This holiday was about the heroes, the Maccabees. Nobody can oppress us because the spirit is within us,” she said. “It’s all about the light we have within us. The light we want to share amongst our communities.”

WHERE: Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre, 125 Simcoe Rd.

WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 25

TIME: 4:30 to 7 p.m.

COST: $8 per person. Tickets are available online or at the door.

For more information, email naama@srcentre.ca.