Shine a light: Beit Avi Chai celebrates Hanukkah

Beit Avi Chai pulled out all the stops to put together a festive agenda that takes in an abundance of season-appropriate musical content.

YARDEN BAR-KOCHBA hosts the ‘Ha’iroo Hadlikoo’ (Glowing Lights) radio show. (photo credit: DANA BAR SIMAN TOV)
YARDEN BAR-KOCHBA hosts the ‘Ha’iroo Hadlikoo’ (Glowing Lights) radio show.
(photo credit: DANA BAR SIMAN TOV)
We could all do with a little light in these dark pandemic-ridden days, couldn’t we? With that in mind Hanukkah may take on extra significance, and should be celebrated in an even jollier spirit than ever, when Beit Avi Chai unfurls its Ha’iru Hadliku (Glowing Lights) program.
The family-tailored event will be broadcast on the Jerusalem institution’s YouTube channel on December 10, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Yotvat Feieresen-Weil, head of programs for children and families and special projects, and Liran Lifshitz, children, families, Kabbalat Shabbat program producer, have pulled out all the stops to put together a festive agenda that takes in an abundance of season-appropriate musical content, and some compelling and entertaining storytelling slots designed to keep parents and kids alike glued to their computer screens.
The all-star cast for the occasion includes the likes of much-loved veteran TV star and children’s show performer Tzipi Shavit, musician-actor Eliad Nachum and high-profile actor-model Daniel Litman, with seasoned stellar writer Ephraim Sidon working his textual and lyrical magic behind the scenes.
Yarden Bar-Kochba is also a natural choice to be in the thick of things in the Beit Avi Chai festival of light pageant. Over the past three decades or so, 50-year-old Bar-Kochba has kept herself gainfully occupied across a wide range of entertainment sectors, including stand-up comedy, theater – on the stage as well as from the director’s chair, starring in children’s productions, as a musician and as a radio show presenter.
The latter primarily references the program she fronts together with songwriter Didi Shahar called Shabbat Baboker (On Shabbat Morning), which airs every week on Army Radio. It is a popular slot for the junior crowd, and also fuels Bar-Kochba’s contribution to Ha’iru Hadliku.
“What I will be doing in the Beit Avi Chai event is inspired by the show I have been doing with Didi for quite a few years now,” she explains. “We play a game with children whereby we try to discover some secret they have. We try to guess what their secret is.” There is nothing overly mysterious or dark about the confidential tidbit.
“One child may have had their tonsils out, another may have found a special stone in the middle of the desert, that sort of thing,” Bar-Kochba laughs.
This week that will be adapted to the festive ambience in question. “For Hanukkah, with Beit Avi Chai, we thought we’d look for a child who has had a miracle happen to them.” Presenter and audience alike, as per the radio show format, will be kept in the dark all the way through.
“We will try to guess what the miracle was,” says Bar-Kochba. “I won’t know what the miracle was until the last moment. I think it’s much better that way.” Presumably, the audience will get the presenter’s sense of excitement as she edges her way toward the child’s secret.
Bar-Kochba’s stint at the festival also features a seasonal storytelling turn, when she will air a thematically apposite tale taken from an early-20th-century compendium of yarns culled by feted poet Haim Nahman Bialik together with renowned editor Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky, based on Talmudic and Midrashic literature.
“It is a lovely legend about the sun and the moon, and how they were once the same size, and how it came about that the sun is so much larger than the moon,” she says.
And there is plenty more to be had in the Beit Avi Chai online festival fiesta, with the accent very much on taking the sunny side of the zeitgeist street.
“Hanukkah comes to us in a complex period of time, and the corona pandemic has consigned us to isolation and distancing, and brought much sadness and darkness to the world,” Feieresen-Weil notes. However, all is not lost, she suggests. “Innumerable moments of hope and light, solidarity and acts of kindness have emerged from this darkness.” That has also informed the way the Glowing Lights program pans out. “We decided to dedicate the first night of Hanukkah to each and every person who chooses to see and add goodness to the world. We will place those wonderful beams of light that enhance our path at the center of the show – [welcome events such as] a friend calling just when you felt alone, your neighbors who took out the trash for you when you were isolating, a word of encouragement and infinite little good acts.” Let’s hang on to those heartwarming sentiments which, hopefully, will help to light things up a little.