Motzei Shabbat Parshat Mikeitz, on the eighth and final night of Chanukah, Congregation Em Habanim opened up their Motzei Shabbat learning programs to the entire Valley Village community. This Chanukah chagigah was an amazing success, with over 60 boys and over 100 adult participants in attendance, including family members and special guests Sarita Bouadanaha, Henry Benharosh, Albert Abergel, and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Rebibo.
“What an amazing night of community spirit!” Leibel Winegard exclaimed as he thanked everyone for their support of Em Habanim’s Avot Ubanim (Father and Son) and Teen Havruta program. Winegard explained that the celebration of the light of Torah and the simchah couldn’t have been possible without the sponsorship from Jason Rimokh, who so generously supported the event, as well as Lionel Levy who contributed in memory of his father Meir Levy, z”l.
The evening began with an hour of learning with fathers of three- or four-year-olds reading stories to their sons. Rabbi Bittan taught Noam Ohayon and Yosef Bittan Psukei Dezimra the Shabbat prayers with true Moroccan melodies. Other boys worked on the week’s parshah questions with their fathers. Still others practiced their bar mitzvah portions. A number of boys learned Gemarah or reviewed Rashi’s commentary on the parshah. Several boys from Yeshiva Ner Aryeh, Valley Torah, Shalhevet, and YULA joined the Teen Havruta learning as they do each week.
Rabbi Bittan commented that the event was a true kiddush Hashem, bringing many synagogues and schools together to celebrate this wonderful holiday. “Learning Torah is the best way to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, symbolically represented by the lighting of Chanukah candles.”
With the learning complete, and the lighting of the final candle on the chanukiyah by Mr. Winegard, who coordinates the program, the festivities began. Several boys offered divrei Torah. Those assembled were further honored by a special story given over by Rabbi Yochanan Weiner, the Rosh Hayeshiva/Menahel of Yeshiva Ner Aryeh. Rabbi Weiner also drew the winning ticket for a complete set of Shas, which was won by Yaakov Benarrous.
After the raffles, everyone danced to the live music provided by Brad Shachter and dined on hot dogs, french fries, sufganiot, and chocolate Chanukah coins! It was beautiful to see 100 boys and fathers dancing just like the Maccabees must have celebrated after their astonishing victory and joy of seeing the light of the menorah burn miraculously in the beis hamikdash.