Chanukah "Share the Light" Celebration at Tattnall Square Park

For nearly a year the ongoing COVID pandemic has indefinitely suspended services, Sunday and Hebrew schools, and community celebrations as most of us are connected only virtually through Zoom. Pandemic-safe outdoor gatherings generally require more space than many congregations have for social distancing, and most of us miss pre-COVID synagogue and temple events. A November afternoon walk through Macon's beautiful and spacious Tattnall Square Park, next to Mercer Univeristy, helped plant the seed for a community Chanukah celebration full of fun, pandemic-safe, meaningful and inclusive activities for Jewish and non-Jewish friends. 

     Laura Ilan and Chrissy Crabtree organized the Sunday afternoon and evening, December 13th Jewish community celebration at Tattnall Square Park, next to Mercer University, where sixty friends from across Middle Georgia gathered to celebrate the fourth night of Chanukah. Masks were worn by all attendees, and social distancing markers and hand sanitizing stations were set up. Activities were spaced far apart from each other and included: face mask decorating, bubble soap waving, sidewalk chalk drawing, and frisbee play. It is our hope that this celebration may provide an inclusive model for future events, open to all Jews and our non-Jewish friends across Middle Georgia, while the pandemic continues and long after it ends.

     A "Share the Light" table decorated with photography books about Israel and Chanukah story books included locally made items for sale to raise money for Macon non-profits supported by the Jewish community while Chanukah music played on a portable stereo. Some of the "Share the Light" sale items included: vegetarian samosas and aloo puri (spicy potato pancakes) made by Gigi Cabell and Laura Ilan, 

Rabbi Aaron Rubinstein's hot sauces, Carlos Gayosso's gluten free & vegan delectable desserts, and Biron herbal teas. As a result, $150 was raised for and distributed to Jewish Federation of Macon and Middle Georgia (JFMM and $130 for Daybreak, a local daytime resource center for those who are homeless ( A wheeled cart full of non-perishable food was collected for Macon Outreach (, a local soup kitchen, and several large bags of warm clothing were collected for those in need at Daybreak. Chrissy Crabtree, Sha'arey Israel congregant and the director of the senior center in Jackson, GA, also brought a very large bag full of 51 colorful, hand knitted hats made by many talented seniors and given to those in need at Daybreak.

     The celebration continued with a creative face mask contest prize awarded to Daniel Bahar (son of Temple Beth Israel's Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar); Sha'arey Israel congregant Carlos Gayosso recited Chanukah blessings; Jewish young people from across Middle Georgia and Daybreak Director Sr. Theresa helped light two large Chanukah menorahs; Chrissy Crabtree led everyone in singing Maoz Tzur, O Chanukah and This Little Light of Mine while Congregation Sha'arey Israel's Rabbi Aaron Rubinstein played his accordion; and small gift bags with chocolate gelt, a small dreidel and bubble soap tube and wand were given to all attendees before everyone said goodnight.  

    Thanks to our community leaders, volunteers and friends across Middle Georgia for all the ways you help keep everyone connected, and light the way for all of us to be a light of love for one another. Life is full of challenges, but as Rabbi Irving "Yitzchak" Greenberg, a well known scholar and author, once said, "The proper response, as Chanukah teaches, is not to curse the darkness, but to light a candle." Many blessings, abundantly good health, peace and happiness to everyone in 2021!