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Congregational Corner

A wonderful Hanukkah with your PJTC community! We had opportunities to celebrate whether in person or online, whether you preferred an intimate gathering or a big party.

Congregants hosted eight different Hanukkah parties in their backyards/courtyards in neighborhoods across the San Gabriel Valley. A follow up to our backyard Sukkot potlucks, this was a wonderful opportunity in groups averaging 15-20 people to get to know others in their area, and I hope as these programs will help you recognize more familiar faces among the crowds. Given the amount of positive feedback I've received, we'll definitely be making these types of programs a tradition. If you are interested in hosting a future gathering, please email me at Thank you so much to our hosts for opening their yards to our community to spread warmth and cheer.

Thank you also to Sisterhood and Men’s Club for your yummy latkes and donuts for our Hanukkah Party at PJTC! We were thrilled to have Rabbi Carrier joined by Cantor Ruth Berman Harris back from sabbatical as about 90 of us lit candles, sang songs, schmoozed and watched an outdoor movie. Kids were also occupied by many Hanukkah craft options while the adults learned with Rabbi Aimee Gerace. Some hot cocoa and our new outdoor heaters courtesy of Men’s Club warmed us.

Those who preferred to stay virtual enjoyed lighting candles over Zoom during a Social Hall with Judy Callahan, sharing stories of their Hanukkiot. Twenty-five families chose the more asynchronous, flexible option of our Hanukkah Give & Get, where they filled out profiles and thoughtfully gave gifts to each other in a round robin format. I was so touched by the amount of thought and care that went into the gift giving this year, and the stories you have shared regarding the new connections you've made.

Friday, December 3, was an especially busy day for lighting Hanukkah candles.  Not only did Rabbi Aimee light a festive outdoor menorah at Kersting Court in Sierra Madre, but Chaplain Claire Gorfinkel and Rabbi Carrier celebrated with more than two dozen residents and guests at Villa Gardens retirement community - and delicious sufganiot made the occasion even more enjoyable.  Later that same afternoon, Chaplain Claire kindled a hanukkiah for 20 residents at Monte Cedro retirement community in Altadena, and we look forward to starting some regular programming there in 2022.

What's next? I hope to see you all for our community-wide Into the Mitzvah Day: Home Edition on January 16 (more information in Emily's article!).

by Melissa Levy
Director of Congregational Engagement

Thu, January 20 2022 18 Shevat 5782