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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 12, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

A diverse group gather for PJ Library family Hanukkah party

Serious game of dreidel being played. Serious game of dreidel being played. The Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties once again hosted a Hanukkah event for all families, putting an emphasis on the all.

Spearheaded by the PJ Library Community Council, the party included a festive dairy lunch in the Margarete Heye Great Room of Ruth Eckerd Hall where attendees enjoyed holiday favorites like potato pancakes, jelly doughnuts, menorah making crafts, Chanukah songs and stories, a magician, balloon artist and a family photo booth.

The Federation hoped to attract unaffiliated and intermarried families, trying a new tactic that really paid off, said Elana Gootson of the Jewish Federation.

“We often assume that people know that everyone is welcome. We decided to be very clear and specifically state on the invitation that all family types are invited. We then listed those family types: interfaith, one Jewish parent, Jewish grandparents, LGBTQ, adopted families, blended families, culturally Jewish, observant and even those who just love the beauty of Jewish culture and traditions,” said Gootson. “We had a great turnout of new diverse families that we haven’t met before.”

Aliza and Keith Norstein Aliza and Keith Norstein Committee member Kara Tanner described an exchange on Facebook, “In a Jewish Moms of Tampa Bay Facebook group we were posting about the various Hanukkah events around Tampa Bay. When I posted about Federation’s inclusive Hanukkah party and toy drive, it created an interesting thread where one mom expressed excitement that this was the only event that self-identified as inclusive. Many moms responded that all events are inclusive, but those with interfaith families said they ‘love that Federation went out of its way to make the message clear and their events welcoming.’ This really made me feel good about our event.”

Beth Gelman entertains the crowd with Hanukkah stories and songs. Beth Gelman entertains the crowd with Hanukkah stories and songs. Sarah Dinehart Wible, daughter of committee member Vicky Dinehart, also posted, “I love that about the Federation, they make sure to let people know all are welcome and I think that is important.”

Beth Gelman, Florida Holocaust Museum executive director and a classically trained singer, played guitar and delighted the audience with Hanukkah stories and songs. Community volunteer and magician, David Fletcher, entertained families with his humor and sleight-of-hand magic tricks. Families took silly photos together and played dreidel.

The event also featured a community initiative in partnership with Toys for Tots, teaching young guests the spirit of tzedakah (charity).

Attendees were encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift to donate. The guests filled two large donation boxes provided by Toys for Tots.

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