(Sam Gurwin, Dec. 6, 2019)
Oak Park, MI -For the 4th year, local Oak Park Synagogue, Beth Shalom, brought its Hanukkah celebration to the surrounding Community. Chanu-Con is a family-friendly, fun, inclusive warm-up to the holiday celebrating freedom, hope, and light.
This Festival has a lot of food vendors, jewelry, art, children’s activities like a bounce house, Star Wars group with a Jedi Academy, and a Balloon Animal Maker. Kids also made candle hat menorahs and edible dreidels, and there was Jewish music in the afternoon. Sarah, a Volunteer member helping said “Everything is the best” when asked about her favorite part of the Festival.
Event Coordinator and Board Member Beth Rodgers said “When we started Chanu-Con!, we wanted it to be a source of pre-holiday excitement for the community at large. It’s meant as a way to get ready not only for Chanukah, but for the holiday season, through live musical entertainment, vendors selling holiday gifts and food, a large tin can raffle so people can enter to win only those prizes they are most interested in, and lots of children’s activities. Guests who spend the afternoon at Chanu-Con! hopefully gain a heightened appreciation of the holidays by starting off their season a little early and finding a sense of community that they may not have known was available.”
There were over 25 vendors, 60 raffle prizes and plenty of kids’ smiles at this year’s event. The festive nature can be felt when one walked around the large two rooms that the festival filled. Next year is already being planned for Nov. 22, which will be the five year anniversary of Chanu-Con!
The event has been such a success that Rodgers wrote a graphic novel about the event, called Welcome to Chanu-Con! It’s illustrated by Howard Fridson. Learn more about the event at the Beth Shalom website.