Local News

Jews Celebrating Hanukkah, Growth

Posted December 8, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— Triangle Jews are in the midst of celebrating Hanukkah, a festive holiday that is marked by the nightly lighting of menorah candles and the exchange of gifts. But they have more to celebrate -- their numbers in the area are increasing.

Enrollment at Hillel Day School is three times what it was seven years ago. A portable classroom has been added. Kids are learning dances and songs, and making paper dredels. A dredel is a toy similar to a top.

The Jewish Community Center opened its doors a year and a half ago; it added an after school program just a few months ago.

"People definitely want a place to call home," said JCC Operations Director Jodi Gore. "They want a connectedness. And being able to be part of a congregation, of a synagogue or temple, is wonderful, it provides a lot to them.

"We provide something different," Gore said, "because we provide something that is not only religiously oriented but also recreationally oriented."

Four years ago, Mazel Tov opened its doors. Susan Kosten is owner of the gift shop, and she says customers are not only Jewish.

"Everyone has a Jewish friend or relative, so we take care of the gifts for all of the life events -- weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, births. So everyone shops with us," Kosten said.

Rabbi Pinchas Herman of Sha-Arei Israel-Lubavitch says the growth of synagogues and organizations helps newcomers.

"I think they are making a greater effort to affiliate with Jewish organizations. I think it helps people settle into the community," Rabbi Herman said.

And, connecting to Jews the world over, an internet page has been added from Jerusalem, where it covered the lighting of the first candle for this year's Festival of Lights celebration. To see Hanukkah in cyberspace, go to www.virtual.co.il/.