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A very happy Chanukah

Posted: December 26, 2008 9:28 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami reads Chanukah stories to about 50 children and their parents Wednesday at Barnes & Noble in Valencia.

 
Temple Beth Ami's Rabbi Mark Blazer lit up the faces of little ones gathered around his feet as he read about a talking latke Wednesday evening.

"The latke was suffering so much that it leapt out of the hot pan and out the window of the cottage and began to run screaming down the boulevard," Blazer read out of a Lemony Snicket book titled "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story."

"Aaaahhhh!" the rabbi yelled as he quoted the distressed potato pancake who is trying to explain its role in Chanukah celebrations.

Blazer's animation produced giggles and wide eyes from those as young as 2-years old.

For six years, Temple Beth Ami hosted the public Chanukah children's event. It's one of five Chanukah festivities that temple and community members could attend throughout the week.

"It's important to create a big welcoming environment that is mutual where people can come and learn," said Blazer.

An additional benefit of having the event in a public space is passers-by or community members who have no Jewish background can join in to learn about Chanukah and Judaism, he said.

Blazer also led the group in a candle lighting of the menorah and singing of Chanukah songs.

"We always make sure people can see our menorahs," Blazer instructed the young learners.

His brother, Nicholas, 10, said the candle lighting was his favorite part of the night.

Eight-year-old Matthew Moran said he enjoyed, "looking at all the pictures and the latke who keeps going ‘aaahhh!'"

The boys' mother, Rachel Moran of Valencia, said events like this are meaningful for the children.

"I think it's important for them to learn their cultural history especially since there are so few Jews in the world, as well as for them to become part of a society," she said.

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