Hanukkah begins early this year: the first night of the eight-day holiday is December 1. An early Hanukkah is nice for families who want to make sure that this celebration is not overshadowed by Christmas, but it also means less time to prepare. Luckily, there is a lot more to Hanukkah in Chicago than lighting the menorah and eating latkes! Here are some of the top Hanukkah events for families in the Chicago area.
Hanukkah Dinner and Concert
December 5 at 5:30 p.m.
Tickets: $38 for adults; $32 for kids ages 3-12; free for kids under 2
The Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd
Glencoe, IL 60022
Bring the whole family to this lively event at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Enjoy a kosher-style buffet of traditional Hanukkah foods, including holiday treats for the kids, while swaying to the swinging sounds of The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. The ticket price includes entry into the amazing Wonderland Express miniature train exhibit. Due to the popularity of this event, the Botanic Garden recommends purchasing tickets in advance.
December 5 at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Advance purchase $5 per person; $6 at the door
Mayer Kaplan JCC Children’s Center
5050 Church Street
Skokie, IL 60077
Especially for young kids! The Chicago JCC Chicago is hosting two screenings of the Sesame Street holiday program “Chanukah: The Missing Menorah!” and brunch with candle lighting and a special appearance by a Sesame Street character. Also included is a choice of open swim at the JCC pool or an open gym playtime. The film begins at 10:30 am for the open swim option and 11:15 for open gym.
December 5 at 10 am
Westfield Hawthorn Mall
122 Hawthorn Center, Lower Level
Vernon Hills, IL
This free program for the whole family includes Hanukkah crafts, dreidel games and a concert by local children’s musician Joel Frankel known to many for his beloved “Bagel Song.” Get into the holiday spirit by making cards to be sent to soldiers and residents of local nursing homes. RSVPs are appreciated but not required. Contact the JCC to RSVP or with questions at 847-763-3603.
Hanukkah Toys for Tots Collection
1631 Waukegan Road
Glenview Credit Union
Glenview, IL 60025
You can teach your kids about the Jewish tradition of tzedakah by participating in a special U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots drive to make sure that needy Jewish children throughout Chicago and Lake County have presents for Hanukkah Starting in early November, you can donate new toys & books (unwrapped) during lobby hours at the Glenview Credit Union.
Happy Hanukkah to all!
Emily Paster is a mother of two living in the near west suburbs. She teaches legal writing at Loyola University School of Law. Read more of her thoughts on balancing work and family and raising kids in the Chicago area on her blog West of the Loop.