Many Jewish temples in Cape Coral and Fort Myers will celebrate Hanukkah this year with various festivities.
Hanukkah, which is also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple. The holiday begins at sunset Friday and ends at sunset Dec. 19.
Temple Beth-el, located at 16225 Winkler Road in Fort Myers, will kick off its Hanukkah celebration on Friday with a dinner and a latka cookoff contest.
The contest will feature individual latkas, which will be judged and awarded at 7 p.m. with first, second and third place prizes. There is only room for 18 contestants, so those who wish to participate are encouraged to do so early.
The dinner will be catered and served buffet style at 6:30 p.m. The dinner is open to anyone who wants to come and enjoy the food. A service will be provided after dinner is finished.
The Temple Beth-el's Sisterhood will sponsor a Hanukkah party and luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 16.
A menorah lighting will take place Dec. 18 during Temple Beth-el's service at 7:30. Everyone who attends the service is encouraged to bring their own menorah, so they can light their candle during the service.
Reservations are required to attend the dinner and luncheon by calling 433-0018, so Temple Beth-el will have enough food to serve those who are interested in attending the events.
For information, visit: www.templebethel.com.
Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Florida is also hosting a Hanukkah Celebration from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Bell Tower Shops.
Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz said it is a major, free event that attracts more than 1,000 people each year.
He said the celebration will feature a Jewish singer and a stand-up comedian. It will also have a clown, face painting, dancing, a pinata, crafts for children and a grand raffle. An appearance by Miss-A-Miracle will be made.
The food and beverages for the celebration include latkas, donuts, soda and water.
Minkowicz said a little shop will be set up for those who wish to purchase Hanukkah items for themselves or as gifts during the celebration.
A grand menorah lighting will take place during the celebration.
"It is a nice festival, everything is free," Minkowicz said of the event, which began 15 years ago. "It's an event that people look forward to, they want to attend it and participate."
For information, call 433-7708 or visit: chabadswf.org.
The Chabad Jewish Center in Cape Coral will also have Hanukkah celebrations, which will begin at 6 p.m. Friday with a Chinese style dinner complete with traditional Hanukkah treats.
Program director Rivky Labkowski said the menorah lighting will take place at 6 p.m. Dec. 14. It is free to the public.
The Grand Menorah Lighting celebration will be held at the Coralwood Shopping Center, which is located at 2301 Del Prado Blvd. S.
Hanukkah treats like donuts and latkas will be available for those who wish to try them.
The celebration will also have public officials extending their greetings, along with music filling the air, so individuals can dance. Arts and crafts will be available for the children.
Labkowski said the celebration is open to the entire community, and she encourages everyone to participate.
This year the Chabad Jewish Center will offer a Hanukkah store due to the high demand of requests they receive from individuals asking where they can purchase holiday items.
The store will offer Hanukkah themed gifts like candles, menorahs, wrapping paper and gift bags.
Labkowski said the store has items for "all your Hanukkah needs and we are doing it as a service for the community, so our prices are very low."
Those who wish to purchase items must make an appointment to visit the store by calling 541-1777.
Labkowski said they are very flexible with the hours. The store is located at 4706 Chiquita Blvd. S.