What do giant LED robots, a virtual concert, and a 6-foot menorah have in common? Chanukah 2020.
Fraida-Cameron Chabad of Wilmette had plans to celebrate Chanukah with an in-person grand menorah lighting and mixing and mingling over holiday treats and music this winter, but as with most things this year, COVID-19 got in the way.
“We realized after consultation with local authorities our original plan to do a lighting in the communities of Winnetka and Wilmette needed to change,” says Rabbi Moshe Teldon. “We took a few days to brainstorm and decided change the event to a drive-in theater experience. It’s going to be something very special.”
What can guests expect this Sunday, December 13, at Chabad of Wilmette’s first socially distanced Chanukah celebration?
“We have giant LED robots on 8-foot stilts that will move between cars and on stage. We also have a half-hour virtual concert with a holiday message, menorah lighting ceremony, and an interactive holiday trivia game show,” explains Rabbi Teldon.
Rabbi Teldon assures that it will be a socially distanced, pandemic-conscious event, “The audio of the concert is being broadcast through an FM transmitter and we won’t have any speakers outside, so guests can keep their windows up the whole time.
Of course, what would a Chanukah celebration be without the lighting of the menorah—a 6-foot-tall menorah in this case. Chabad of Wilmette’s full-size menorah is especially different this year.
“Children from the Hebrew school have been bringing in coins each week to fill our menorah— or ‘coin-orah’ as we are calling it,” says Rabbi Teldon. “The children have enjoyed seeing the PVC pipes of the menorah fill with their donated coins.”
The collected change will be donated to a nonprofit chosen by Chabad of Wilmette after the event, further giving back to the community and Chanukah’s message of hope.
Rabbi Teldon adds, “The theme of Chanukah is about finding light in the darkness. As a Rabbi, I speak with many people in the community and there is a real fear of going out in public with the current pandemic. This is a wonderful opportunity to stay safe but embrace our community and making the most out of the situation. I encourage everyone to be creative and lean into and focus on the things that truly matter—family, faith, and community.”
Parking spaces are very limited, and reservations are required. Tickets to the 5:15 p.m. event on Sunday, December 13, are $10 per vehicle. Wilmette Chanukah Drive-In is located at 111 Skokie Boulevard, in Wilmette. For more information, visit chabadwilmette.com/drivein.