ITHACA, N.Y. – Sunday morning at Temple Beth-El, families and guests will gather to attend the annual Chanukah Festival and Book Fair, connecting, celebrating, and enjoying each other’s company.

“There are going to be eleven local craftspeople, who will be showing their handmade crafts during the whole day and the Book Fair is also during the whole day…, ” Marjorie Hoffman, a member of Temple Beth-El’s arts committee and Coordinator of PJ Library says. “The Arts Committee has also organized a Klezmer concert, and before that there will be a Chanukah Sing-a-long, so people can come at 9 a.m. if they like, or if they want to come when there are more activities, they can come at noon.”

At 1 p.m., there will be a story-telling portion of the event involving the PJ Library program, which is a Jewish storybook subscription program that sends Jewish books to families and children every month for free.

“PJ library’s subscribers are all kinds of people who have a Jewish connection, but they’re not necessarily members of a temple, so they learn about PJ Library and they subscribe and receive age-appropriate books about holidays or simply traditional Jewish stories,” Hoffman said.”We have events for families, and people get to meet one another when they may never have. It’s a wonderful mix of different kinds of people. We have events several times a year, this is only one of them.”

“The Book Fair has been going for fifty years, it’s very old,” Marjorie Hoffman said.”The Chanukah Festival, the music, the food, the activities, and the crafts for sale, that’s about twenty years old. ”

“In the last twenty years with all the additional activities, we get a lot more people from the public coming in, and it’s like the only time of the year where they might come to Temple Beth-El,” Hoffman said.

Books being read during the storytelling portion of the event have been chosen by the Temple Beth-El Sisterhood in cooperation with Buffalo Books. Genres include fiction, non-fiction and cooking, appealing to grade school, middle school and young adult readers. Titles such as “Farmer Kobi’s Hannukah March,” “Everything I want to Eat: Squirl and the New California Cooking,” and “Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir” are up for grabs.

The indoor market provides plenty of other event,s as well. Just like the Book Fair, the market starts at 9 a.m. Sunday and ends at 3 p.m.. The festival will include an indoor market with a variety of activities, food, and entertainment.

“Also, all day long we will be selling freshly made potato pancakes, a traditional Chanukah food,” Hoffman says.

While the Temple Beth-El Sisterhood organizes the Book Fair, the Temple Beth-El Arts Committee heads the craft portion of the festival. Crafts, such as jewelry, textiles, wooden toys, honey, and ceramics will be for sale for the public. Graham Ottoman, of the Gourdlandia gallery, will present his art, constructed from gourds, and local pottery artist and teacher Jill Ackerman will be one of the vendors displaying her stoneware, functional pottery.

“I hope we raise some good funds for the Temple and I hope, for someone who has never come, that it becomes something they may want to go to annually,” Ackerman said.”Maybe it will be a new tradition for someone who’s coming for the first time.”

“I’m excited about the potato latkes, apple fritters, things like that. And the Klezmer music,” Ackerman said about her first time at the festival.”I’m Jewish, but I wouldn’t say I’m very good Jew. I don’t observe my Jewish tradition too much, so this will be the first time, in a long time, that I’m going to really be involved in some Jewish activities, so that’s exciting, too. ”

Hoffman said, “We open our doors. We’re very happy to have people come and celebrate the upcoming holiday.”

The schedule for the event is as follows:

  • 12:00-2:30 Wandering Klezmer Musicians
  • 12:00-12:30 Chanakah Sing-a-long
  • 1:00-1:30 Children’s Stories from PJ Library Ithaca
  • 1:30-3:00 Family Crafts

Temple Beth-El’s is located at 402 North Tioga Street in Ithaca. For more information visit the Facebook page event here.  All photos courtesy of Marjorie Hoffman, Coordinator of PJ Library and a member of the Temple Beth-El Arts Committee.