How Hanukkah Happened for HIAS (in D.C.)

Last week the HIAS D.C.-based Community Engagement team participated in a number of events celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah.

On Wednesday, December 5, HIAS joined EntryPointDC and other community partners for a 20s and 30s Hanukkah Happy Hour to celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah.

On Thursday, December 6, HIAS was the beneficiary of raffle proceeds at the 2nd Annual People’s Hanukkah Party. This year’s event was organized by Chef Alex Levin and co-hosted by the Schlow Restaurant group at the Casolare in the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel.

Over the course of the evening, approximately 300 community members stopped by to light candles, eat and drink, dance, and hear “Chanu-logues” from former White House staff members including Matt Nosanchuk, who served as liaison to the American Jewish community under President Obama, and Chelsey Berlin, HIAS’ Community Engagement Director for Greater Washington, DC.

“The story of Hanukkah is not only a story of miracles, it is a story of human persistence and resilience,” Berlin said . “It is critical that the Jewish community continue to raise a loud and persistent moral voice that injects humanity into policy conversations regarding refugees and asylum seekers, and keeps up the pressure on elected officials when it comes to their policies.”

On Sunday, December 9, HIAS was a co-sponsor with Sephardic Heritage International (SHIN) DC at Temple Micah for their annual “Hanukkah’s Extra Flame Concert.” This event is based on the custom to light an extra flame each night of Hanukkah, initiated by Sephardic refugees, to commemorate the security and tolerance they found in Aleppo, following expulsion from Spain in 1492.

The evening featured a performance by Faraj Abyad, a musician of Aleppo-Syrian Sephardic heritage, and Syrian Hanukkah food to raise awareness of ways to help Syrian and other refugees. Afraim Katzir from SHIN DC remarked that, “Tonight uses music to not only bring joy and comfort, but to raise awareness of Sephardic heritage and the cultures of Middle Eastern and North African Jews.”

Throughout all eight days, the Jewish community demonstrated the presence and strength of Hanukkah values lived out today. Jews of all ages and backgrounds came together to support HIAS and reaffirm their willingness to stand up for refugees and asylum seekers both in the U.S. and around the world.