DC Chanukah Happenings 5772!

Graphic courtesy of Kaboose, Inc.

Graphic courtesy of Kaboose, Inc.

The winter season is upon us- the weather turns cold and icy and people begin to count the days until they get a little time off from work or school. Why not warm yourself by the kindling Chanukah lights? Local Jewish groups are getting ready to roll out the red carpet for this well-known religious holiday, which will take place this year from sundown Dec. 20 to sundown Dec. 27.
Check these out!

Chanukah at the Ellipse
American Friends of Lubavitch starts off the holiday season with this annual ceremony on the White House lawn
Tuesday, December 20, 4 pm, tickets required

8 Nights of Chanukah
Drop by the DCJCC every night to light the menorah and see what else is in store!
Tuesday, December 20-Tuesday, December 27, 5:30 pm

National Museum of American Jewish Military History Chanukah Celebration
Focusing on the Maccabees and their military victory, plus food!
Tuesday, December 20, 6:30-8 pm

Hanukkah Happy Hour on the Hill
Annual young adult shindig sponsored by several Jewish organizations, held at The Pour House
Tuesday, December 20, 6:30-9:30 pm, $5

Gala Chanukah Mesiba
Greater Washington Community Kollel features a parenting speech and magic show!
Tuesday, December 20, 7:15-9 pm

Synagogue Chanukah Celebrations for Wednesday, December 21:
Ohr Kodesh
5-8 pm
Tifereth Israel
6-8 pm

Synagogue Chanukah Celebrations for Thursday, December 22:
Olam Tikvah
9:30-11 am
B’nai Tzedek
4:30-6 pm

Latkes and Learning
Sixth & I hosts religious study over Chanukah foods for young professionals
Thursday, December 22, 7 pm, $8

Synagogue Chanukah Celebrations for Friday, December 23:
B’nai Tzedek
6:30-8 pm
Temple Emanuel
6:30-9 pm

Good for the Jews: Putting the Ha! In Hanukkah
Uproarious Jewish duo is at it again, poking fun at and celebrating Judaism in this comedy/musical sketch
Saturday, December 24, 8-10 pm, $10-$24

Synagogue Chanukah Celebrations for Sunday, December 25:

Jewish Community of Northern Virginia

11 am-3 pm
B’nai Tzedek
3-7 pm
Ohr Kodesh
7-9 pm

Festival of Lights, Latkes and Family Fun!
The annual AishDC party includes events catered towards kids and teens.
Sunday, December 25, 4-6 pm, Free for members, $10 for non-members, $36 max per family

Kesher Kids Chanukah Mitzvah Party
Children’s mitzvah project followed by pizza, latkes and sufganiyot!
Sunday, December 25, 5-6:30 pm

A Marriage Against the System in Israel/Palestine Documentary “Love During Wartime”

Jasmin and Osama / image courtesy of WJFF

Hope that everyone made it over to see something during the 11-day Washington, DC Jewish Film Festival! I’ve been in the midst of end-of-semester stuff for grad school, but I now have the time to promote the film I squeezed in on Saturday, December 10: “Love During Wartime.”

When I first stepped into AFI, I did harbor some doubts. There is, after all, precious little that is as polarizing as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In fact, Swedish director Gabriella Bier could not be with us, but she bid staff to read a little note that claimed, in part, that although she did not always agree with her subjects, she tried to portray them as accurate to themselves. Uh oh, I thought to myself, which side is getting the shaft?

I came to realize that the “side” getting the shaft was the marriage between two people in love. Their oppressor was the system—both Israeli and Palestinian—which could not allow them the affordance of living together in one of their home countries. On a larger scale even other parts of the world were oppressive, which surprised me the most.

Osama (known as “Assi”) in Israel moved briefly to Tel Aviv a few years back and met Jasmin. Watching the documentary, it isn’t difficult to see why they may be in love. They are both artists—Osama with his sculptures and Jasmin with her dance. When Osama’s temporary status in Israel is up, he must move back to Ramallah. The couple tries in vain to get permission for Jasmin to join him, which Israel refuses for security reasons (not entirely unfounded, since Osama himself is taken and beaten by Palestinian police forces for marrying “a Jew.”) But Israel also refuses to let him return to Jasmin’s family in Jerusalem. Out of options, Jasmin moves to Berlin, where her mother was born during the Third Reich and where she hopes to obtain a visa for Osama so they can finally live together as husband and wife.

But even when that happens, troubles still plague the young couple. Germany, which shocked me at first, but now perhaps seems part of European fear-mongering about Arabs, dragged their feet for as long as they could and only allowed Osama a temporary, student visa. This meant that he wasn’t allowed to work, putting strain on the marriage as Jasmin supported the pair of them. They finally kicked him out, citing that Jasmin’s mother was in fact not a German citizen thanks to the complications of a Jew being born there during the Holocaust. On a happier note, they moved to Vienna where Osama had success with a sculpture exhibit. The film ends by saying they now have a little girl. I left the theater in a surprisingly optimistic mood, hoping that despite all these troubles, Osama and Jasmin stayed together, and were happy.

I was also very impressed with Bier. Diligently following this couple around for sporadic stints over a few years, she nevertheless captured the complexity of their characters as they battled between love and hate for their homelands, for Germany, and for their relationship. Their families were also filmed, and from that one can see the truth behind the Israeli/Palestinian conflict—behind the rockets and the gunfire there are real families, just like any, trying to live in peace. Not exactly the major crux of the story, but it was relieving to see past the barricaded wall of the Middle East.

“Love During Wartime” was cosponsored with the Embassy of Sweden. View the “Love During Wartime” trailer on YouTube. Check out my previous coverage of WJFF films, including “Judios en el espacio” and “La Cámera Obscura.”

Upcoming Events: December 5-11

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Until Sunday, December 11

Washington Jewish Film Festival

Sunday, December 4 – Thursday, December 8

Community Connections Week

Monday, December 5

The State of Young America

Paid Sick Leave Grassroots Kickoff

LGBT All Fired Up for Chanukah

JSC Reading the Zohar

Creative Little Kids Winter 2011

Tuesday, December 6

The Edge of History

Young Invincibles Holiday Reception

District 15 Parlor Meeting

Hadassah and Temple Shalom: Winds of Change: Fast Moving Events in the Middle East

National Museum of American Jewish Military History: Stitches for Soldiers

JSC Sacred Fragrances of the Tenach

JSC Inquisition and Expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal

JSC Why does Yiddish Poetry Matter?

Wednesday, December 7

Melissa Clark reading

NOVA State Legislators’ Reception 2011

B’nai Tzedek: Film, Lunch and Latkes

Hebrew Home Starlight Lounge

JSC The Three Waves of Jewish Migration to China

JSC Branching Out from Prayer: Contemporary Poetry on Liturgical Themes

JSC Jews of the American South: West Virginia

Handmade for the Homeless

Thursday, December 8

Activists Awards Grassroots Gala

Sixth & I Men’s Club The art of whisky: A tasting from Cooper Fox Distillery

District 16 Parlor Meeting

Bible Study with Norman Shore

Friday, December 9

HYL Shabbat Dinner

6th in the City Shabbat Dinner

Interfaith Couples Shabbat Dinner

Ohr Kodesh: Tot Shabbat

Washington Hebrew Congregation Special Celebration

Am Kolel: Darkness and Light Shabbaton

Saturday, December 10

Rally for Housing for All

Sunday, December 11

Kabbalah, Science and Universal Ethics

Kesher Israel Home Energy Initiative

Om Shalom Yoga

Grandparenting Interfaith Grandchildren

JCCGW Chanukah Celebration

Olam Tikvah: Musical Festival of Lights

Shalshelet: No Rock Like You: Songs for the Jewish Soul

JewishROC Annual Fundraiser

Yiddish of Greater Washington Café Kasrilevke

Parenting Center Workshop: Baby Signs