A Community United in Light: A Memorable Chanukah at Hebrew Academy

Thursday, 14 December, 2023 - 2:45 pm

A Community United in Light: A Memorable Chanukah at Hebrew Academy


As the last flickers of the Chanukah candles light up the nights, our hearts at Hebrew Academy Community Day School remain strong and bright. This year, our menorah lighting transcended tradition; it became a vibrant celebration of our wonderfully diverse community.


The Value Circle of the Hebrew Academy Community Day School echoed with laughter and chatter, bringing together bright young students, dedicated teachers, proud parents, and long-standing supporters. Each evening, as we gathered to light the menorah, there was a palpable sense of unity and warmth, a reminder of the strength and spirit of our community and the unique place we hold in the heart of Orange County.




As the menorah's flames danced each night, we were graced by a remarkable array of individuals who together form the heartbeat of the Hebrew Academy, including our esteemed past and present board members, whose guidance and dedication have been pivotal in shaping our school's journey. For each menorah candle, a different luminary from our community stepped forward, symbolizing our school family's diverse yet united fabric. From long-standing supporters who have watched generations flourish within these walls to recent members who bring fresh energy and ideas, every individual has played a role in bringing the light of Chanukah to life. Their collective participation enriched our Chanukah experience and reinforced the strong sense of community and shared purpose that defines the Hebrew Academy. Each candle is a reminder of the countless contributions and enduring commitment that continue to guide and illuminate our path forward.


Richard Wolpow, the Hebrew Academy’s first student, returned, reminding us of our roots and the journey Hebrew Academy has traveled. His presence linked our proud history with our school's dynamic present and future.


Rosie Rubin, another former student and retired public school teacher with 30 years of experience, joined us. Watching her interact with our kindergarten students as she lovingly distributed Chanukah gelt was a sight to cherish. The instant magic, the connection, and the love that blossomed in those moments were a beautiful embodiment of the nurturing spirit of the Hebrew Academy. Rosie's visit was more than a gesture; it was a bridge between generations, between the past and the present. Her joy and enthusiasm in sharing this festive tradition with our youngest learners highlighted the enduring values we uphold – of community, education, and the joy of Jewish traditions.


Cantor Zev Brooks from Temple Bet Emett in Anaheim, a former student of our school, revisited the campus that holds so many cherished memories for him. Being back in the halls of Hebrew Academy, he recalled the joy and vibrancy of his days as a student here. We're grateful to Cantor Brooks for bringing that joy to life through his music. His rendition of 'Sweeter than Kosher Wine' was an absolute delight, resonating with our fourth-grade students, who sang along with joy and enthusiasm, a gift to us all, adding a special sweetness to our Chanukah celebrations.


Then there was Zack Weiss, a shining example of local talent and ambition. Raised in Irvine, right here in Orange County, Zack's journey is a testament to unwavering perseverance. From playing for the Bruins at UCLA, where he majored in earth science, to his inspiring role as a pitcher for Team Israel, and now with the Boston Red Sox, his path has been relentless dedication. His time with the Angels held a special place in our hearts, as they're our local team, and seeing someone local reach such heights was incredibly meaningful.


Zack's visit was more than just a homecoming; it was inspiring for our students. He connected with our community as an athlete and science enthusiast, expressing his admiration for our school's xStream Science Lab and its innovative programs. His message about relentlessly pursuing dreams, grounded in his own experiences and achievements, resonated deeply with everyone at Hebrew Academy, reminding us that with passion and persistence, dreams do become reality.


For the final menorah lighting of 2023, we are honored to welcome two centenarian Holocaust survivors, Mr. Joe Alexander, and Dr. Jacob Eisenbach, to lead the lighting of our Menorah. Their incredible life stories of survival, resilience, and hope echo the Chanukah themes of triumph over darkness and bring a living history to our midst. This poignant event holds special significance as our middle school students explore 'The Diary of Anne Frank' in their English classes. The presence of these remarkable survivors adds immeasurable depth to our students' understanding of history and the enduring strength of the human spirit. As they share their experiences, they remind us of the precious legacy we carry and the light we must continue to shine in the face of adversity. Their participation in our celebration is a tribute to their indomitable spirit and a powerful symbol of Jewish endurance and the values we cherish at Hebrew Academy. 


Chanukah at Hebrew Academy reminds us of the enduring light that emanates from our community. Each flicker has been a testament to the resilience, hope, and unity that define us from the first candle to the last. The presence of luminaries has illuminated not just our menorah but also our collective spirit.


Their stories, interwoven with the laughter and learning of our students, have created a celebration that transcends time – a vivid reminder that our shared values and traditions are the eternal flames that guide us. As the Hebrew Academy family, we carry this light forward, nurturing it within our hearts and our community, ensuring that the message of 'Am Yisroel Chai' – the Nation of Israel Lives – continues to resonate, inspire, and illuminate the path for future generations.


Happy Chanukah, and may our shared light shine ever brighter.


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