Jewish communities worldwide to host 'Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend'

Inspired by “homecoming” events that emerged from the American south, Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend events around the world will be held onsite and online.

RABBI LEVI DUCHMAN lights a candle to celebrate Hanukkah, in Dubai in December. (photo credit: CHRISTOPHER PIKE/REUTERS)
RABBI LEVI DUCHMAN lights a candle to celebrate Hanukkah, in Dubai in December.
(photo credit: CHRISTOPHER PIKE/REUTERS)

Hundreds of congregations, Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Federations, schools, camps, independent minyanim and Jewish organizations around the world plan to celebrate “Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend,” from December 3 to December 5 to welcome Hanukkah – the Jewish Festival of Lights.

A wide variety of gatherings – from celebrations, services, rituals, meals, festivals, community art projects, concerts, and candle lighting – are available to jews in their local regions. Both in-person and online gatherings will be offered.

“This Hanukkah is such a unique moment as Jewish communities begin returning to a sense of normalcy right at this festive, communal, and family-oriented holiday,” Dr. Ron Wolfson, a Professor of Education at American Jewish University and Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend leader.

“There is something for everyone. Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend events are an opportunity to be a part of something greater, special, an exciting opportunity to celebrate not simply the holiday, but what we have all missed so much—our relationships with each other. The message is ‘reunite around the light’ and ‘come home.’”

Wolfson originally drew inspiration from “homecoming” events: a reunion of members and former members of an organization, such as a school or team. The southern tradition from the late 1800s usually takes place around a central event, such as a banquet or sports match.

 Scenes from the Angelo State Rams vs. Texas A&M–Commerce Lions football game and homecoming tailgate on November 2, 2013. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS) Scenes from the Angelo State Rams vs. Texas A&M–Commerce Lions football game and homecoming tailgate on November 2, 2013. (credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Inspired by the southern tradition, Wolfson began circulating the idea of marking the emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic with a “homecoming” that quickly spread from synagogues to nearly every corner of the global Jewish community, with prominent partner organizations eager to open their doors to anyone looking for meaningful connection after nearly two years in isolation.

“To quote a favorite song, the invitation was ‘get back to where you once belonged,’” Wolfson quips.

“What an awesome equation to bring together the Jewish community from all over into our synagogues and organizational homes for a grand homecoming after all this time,” adds Rabbi Elaine Zecher, senior rabbi of Temple Israel, Boston, a participant in Hanukkah Homecoming Weekend.

“The opportunity to do this together, across the world, truly adds up to a beautiful experience of holiness wherever we find ourselves.”