Hanukkah celebrations on Long Island

Chabad House of Bellmore, Merrick and Wantagh celebrates

Chabad House of Bellmore, Merrick and Wantagh celebrates Hanukkah in Merrick with a lighting of the Menorah and speech by Rabbi Kramer. (2008) (Credit: Handout)

Hanukkah is coming . . . Clic!

Let's explain: Clics are Lego-like, brightly colored construction toys - and this year, for the first time, volunteers at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Merrick are using thousands of them to build what they say will be the world's largest Clics menorah (about 12 feet tall - lit with candles placed on top).

Lighting it will culminate the center's fourth Chanukah Wonderland, a family-friendly holiday afternoon - doughnut- and mug-decorating, dreidel- and menorah-making, face-painting and more.

Not to mention, a parade featuring menorahs atop cars and limos, which also will sport festive flags and balloons for Hanukkah (the holiday officially begins Friday night, Dec. 11).

>>Find more Hanukkah events on Long Island

>>Find recipes for a Hanukkah feast

Are you ready to party?

The Merrick group is part of Chabad-Lubavitch, a branch of Hasidism that calls itself "the world's largest Jewish educational outreach organization." The ultra-Orthodox group reaches out, in very colorful ways, to Jews who don't belong to synagogues as well as those who do - think "Mitzvah Mobiles" trolling Manhattan's streets for Jewish men willing to pray. Here, they want everyone who wants to celebrate Hanukkah to come.

Since Chabad tends to do everything big, the Merrick center's Hanukkah fest is one of 650 Chabad is undertaking worldwide, ranging from a chocolate menorah in Houston to a skating party Wednesday at Central Park's Trump Wollman Rink (they'll light a menorah made of . . . ice).

These celebrations, of course, have a serious side.

The Festival of Lights

Families light candles for eight nights during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, commemorating Judah Maccabees triumph over the Syrians in 165 BCE and the rededication of the violated Temple. Many families give children gifts at candle-lighting on each of the eight nights.

Chanukah Wonderland

When  | where 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday, Clubhouse at Merrick Park Golf Course, Clubhouse Road (south of Merrick Road); followed by parade to menorah lighting, 3:30-4 p.m., Merrick LIRR Gazebo (corner Merrick Avenue and Sunrise Highway). Info at 516-833-3057, chabadjewishlife.org.

Cost $6 (or $18 a family) for Chanukah Wonderland; menorah lighting, followed by latkes and treats, is free.

Upcoming Hanukkah events:

There are lots of ways to celebrate Hanukkah on Long Island. Here are more events:

Festival of Lights Hanukkah Party: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at Barry and Florence Friedberg JCC, 15 Neil Ct., Oceanside. Info at 516-766-4341.

Cost $20 family of four ($6 each additional person). Menorah-lighting and crafts.

Family Hanukkah Celebration: 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at Brookhaven Town Hall, One Independence Hill, Bicycle Path, Farmingville, 631-698-4000.

Cost Free. Menorah lighting, hot latkes and doughnuts (rain or shine).

Hanukkah Extravaganza: 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at  Congregation Tifereth Israel, 40 Hill St., Glen Cove, 516-676-5080, ctonline.org.

Cost Free. Israeli singing and dancing, cookie baking and a Scholastic book fair.

Hanukkah Celebration: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at Jericho Jewish Center, 430 N. Broadway, Jericho, 516-938-2540,  jerichojc.com

Cost Free. Games, music and food. 

Latke-eating contest: 10:30 a.m.-noon Sunday, Dec. 13 at Zan's Kosher Delicatessen, 135 Alexander Ave., Lake Grove, 631-979-8770.

Cost Free. If watching people stuff their faces is your thing, Zan's is hosting the Fifth Annual National Potato Latke Eating Championship.

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