Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman

Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman sets up a 9-foot menorah at the Oro Valley Public Library.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

Next Thursday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m., Chabad of Oro Valley will host a community-wide Hanukkah celebration at the Oro Valley Public Library (1305 W Naranja Dr.) to celebrate the Jewish holiday. What will be unique about this event will be the activity that leads it off, one that is assured to remain etched in the memory of all present.

For the first time in Tucson history, celebrants will witness a “Gelt Drop.” Local firefighters of the Golder Ranch Fire District will climb up their ladders and shower the attendees with chocolate Gelt.

The activity will bring the ancient custom of giving children Gelt on Hanukkah to a whole new level. The custom of giving Gelt, which is Yiddish for money, was designed to offer children positive reinforcement for exemplary behavior, particularly as a reward for diligence in their studies, as well as to train them into giving charity. A more contemporary version of giving Gelt evolved into chocolate coins in gold foil wrapping - which is now frequently associated with the holiday.

In Oro Valley, not only will there be chocolate Gelt, but it will be raining down with much drama and fanfare. Chabad of Oro Valley is known for its innovative approach to Jewish education and the Gelt drop will not disappoint. 

"I wanted to take a tradition and make it magical,” said Mushkie Zimmerman, Chabad of Oro Valley co-director. “There is nothing more dynamic than dropping chocolate from the sky. I can’t wait to see the reaction! I’m hoping this will create amazing memories for children Jewish and non-Jewish."

At the free event, participants will also enjoy the highly acclaimed James Reid for an incredible LED light and fire juggling show. There will be donuts and latkes for all. The celebration will conclude with a Giant Menorah lighting.

"It is a holiday that enriches our lives with the light of tradition," said Rabbi Zimmerman, Chabad of Oro Valley director. “In ancient times our ancestors rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem with the Menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place. Hanukkah also propagates the universal message that ultimately good will prevail over evil, freedom over oppression and light over darkness."

Chabad centers all around the world are dedicated to spreading light and goodness in their respective communities. In its Hanukkah outreach campaign, Chabad of Oro Valley will join thousands of Chabad centers across the globe who are all staging similar public displays of the Menorah and its symbolic lights. From Australia to Africa, Columbia to Hong Kong, New York City’s ground zero to the White House lawn, hundreds of thousands will experience the joy of Hanukkah with Chabad.

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