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Enjoy Chanukah 2020 in Savannah with a light spirit
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Savannah Mayor Van Johnson (right) participates in the 2017 menorah-lighting ceremony in Ellis Square during Chanukah 2017. - photo by Chabad of Savannah

THE HOLIDAY SEASON will be different this year − as with everything else in 2020 − and Chanukah in Savannah is no exception. But that won't stop the city from celebrating the Jewish Festival of Lights in a safe manner, either in-person with social distancing or from the comfort of home, with the following events.

Menorah lighting in Ellis Square

Continuing a locally beloved tradition, Chabad of Savannah will mark the first night of Chanukah with a menorah-lighting ceremony in Ellis Square at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. Local TV networks WTOC and WJCL will broadcast the celebration live, as locals are encouraged to view the joyous spectacle from home. The menorah lighting will also be streamed on the Facebook pages for the City of Savannah and the Savannah Jewish Federation.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson will be on hand to help spread the spirit of shalom, while elementary and middle-school students read essays about the meaning of Chanukah. According to Rabbi Zalman Refson, organizing the Ellis Square celebration amid an ongoing pandemic was not easy, but persevering through hard times is part of what Chanukah is all about. Visit jewishsav.org for more information.

Congregation Mickve Israel events

Founded in 1733, Congregation Mickve Israel has a long history of celebrating Chanukah, and they are not letting COVID-19 spoil the fun this year. Based at their awe-inspiring synagogue on Monterey Square, the congregation will light their menorah for all to see on Friday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m., with the event being livestreamed on the Mickve Israel Savannah YouTube channel.

Congregation Mickve Israel will also close out Chanukah with a glowing occasion, lighting the menorah’s eighth candle in Monterey Square at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17. Anyone who wants to join the event in person will receive sufganiyots (doughnuts stuffed with jelly), but are encouraged to socially distance throughout the celebration. Visit mickveisrael.org for more information.

Community Chanukah CARnival

Experience all the delights of eight crazy nights in one fun-filled evening without leaving your car, as the Jewish Educational Alliance hosts the free Chanukah CARnival on Sunday, Dec. 13 during 4-5:30 p.m. at the JEA center at 5111 Abercorn St. in Savannah.

Pull up to the JEA parking lot to discover eight unique booths − each representing a different community organization − filled with Chanukah treats like latkes and doughnuts. All participants will remain in their vehicles while visiting each booth and playing a trivia game, while Chanukah tunes move the fun forward through each stop.

Participants are encouraged to donate to Toys For Tots at one of the booths. At the end of your joyful journey, participants can hop out of their car for a family portrait at the photo booth to commemorate your Chanukah excursion. Visit savannahjea.org for more information.