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12.9.16 Issue

Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Editor of the Jewish Press

Ask Louri Sullivan why she likes Hanukkah, and she’ll tell you:

hanukkah-extravaganza-web“I have such great memories of how it felt, as a child, to light those candles and to be together with family. Nowadays, I think of how much my own children love the smell of latkes throughout the house and the special way we set the table with our Hanukkah tablecloth for the entire week. The holiday lends itself so well to building family traditions. We have a huge bowl of dreidels that we have collected over the years, and we pile gelt around it. It invites everyone who walks through the door to play and have some chocolate.”

As Senior Director of Community Impact and Special Projects at the Jewish Federation of Omaha, Louri makes good use of those memories. The 2017 Kids’ Campaign is in full swing; to celebrate tzedakah, we will host the Hanukkah Extravaganza Dec. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the JCC front entrance.

“Coming together at the Jewish Community Center,” Louri says, “is a great way to get ready for Hanukkah and all the fun that comes with the Festival of Lights.  This event is not to be missed and will be so much fun for kids of all ages and families to come together before winter break.”

Louri can’t do it all alone; she gets help from enthusiastic volunteers who co-chair Kids’ Campaign with her. They are Stephanie, Matthew, Shalom, Judah and Eliana Beneda; Crystal, Aryeh, Nina and Josie Epstein; Lisa, Chuck, Makayla and Kori Lucoff; Jamie, Troy, Ainsley, Aiden and Audrey Meyerson; Melissa, Matt, Joshua, Evan and Lea Shapiro and Sonia, Alan, Adria and Asher Tipp.

“I really enjoy working closely with these young families,” Louri says. “The volunteers amaze me; they bring such great ideas to the table. I am very grateful when I see entire families, including the youngest ones among them, get involved.”

As during the previous Kids’ Campaign, specially marked Tzedakah cans have been handed out across the community. During the Hanukkah Extravaganza, kids will be invited to bring them back and share some tzedakah to provide for those in the community who are less fortunate.

“I absolutely loved watching the kids last year,” Louri says. “They walked in carrying their Tzedakah cans, and they were so excited when they poured their coins into the counting machine. It has nothing to do with how many coins there are. Instead, it’s about learning the joy of giving to others, regardless of how much. The act itself is what’s important.”

And then, of course, everyone gets to have fun. There is no cost to attend, and RSVPs are not necessary unless you want latkes. During the celebration, which comes with all the bells and whistles: games, arts and crafts, story-telling, face painter and a jumpy castle, guests can also purchase latkes at Friedel’s annual latke sale.  Kids’ meals are $5 and include two latkes with applesauce and sour cream, two donut holes and a juice box. Adult meals will have three latkes; a bottle of water replaces the juice box. To-go orders are $15 for ten latkes, applesauce and sour cream included.  Donuts are for sale as well. Pre-orders are appreciated, and can be placed by contacting by Dec. 14.

The Hanukkah Extravaganza is presented by the Jewish Federation of Omaha, the Jewish Community Center and Friedel Jewish Academy, and funding is generously provided by the Special Donor-Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation, Murray H. and Sharee C. Newman Supporting Foundation and the Mort Richards Youth Program Fund. For more information, please contact Louri at