Light one candle: Hanukkah and holiday events in the Berkshires
The Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, is an occasion to celebrate the miracle of one day's temple oil lasting eight days. Families light candles on the eight-branched menorah, sing joyful songs, play spinning-top "dreidel" games and enjoy festive food such as fried potato latkes and donuts.
On Sunday, everyone is invited to join in the fun at a pair of free concerts with self-described "entertain-ucator" Felicia Sloin accompanied by puppeteer Kate Holdsworth. The duo will offer an entertaining, inspiring and zany mix of music, dance, percussion and sign language fit for the whole family.
Sloin has been known to include rap and rewritten Beatles songs in her engaging shows, which celebrate Jewish values, culture and holidays. She records children's music and also sings lead vocals with the popular band "Klezamir."
The first concert will take place at 11:30 a.m. at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire in Great Barrington, followed at 3 p.m. by a repeat performance in the Macy's Court of the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. Admission to both concerts is free of charge to all.
In the spirit of the gifts given during the holiday, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and the PJ Library will collect donations of new children's pajamas at the concerts for families. in need. Information: www.jewishberk
shires.org (413) 442-4360 ext. 14.
Following the concert at the mall, Chabad of the Berkshires will hold a free Hanukkah Family Festival at 4 p.m. with a magic show, music, dreidel games and holiday treats including latkes, donuts and "gelt" (gold foil-covered chocolate coins). The party is open to all and will include lighting the menorah, whose candles are lit progressively each night during the holiday. Information: www.jewishberkshires.com, (413) 499-9899.
The galleries of the Berkshire Museum are ablaze with holiday trees adorned with baubles and lights, the fanciful creations including a dragon and fantasy tree house in honor of this year's theme, "Myths & Magic."
On Saturday, the museum will celebrate the Festival of Trees with a special family day filled with activities and treats for all ages.
At 11 a.m., the critter caretakers from Burpee's Zoo will introduce some of the fascinating creatures in their charge, including a curious kangaroo, prickly African porcupine and colorful macaw.
In the galleries, also at 11 a.m., the Berkshire Singers will offer some seasonal entertainment with a program of holiday favorites, followed by delicious do-it-yourself cookie decorating at noon, while supplies last.
With appetites whetted, get ready to vote for your favorite recipe in the Berkshire Museum Cookie Contest, starting at 2:30 p.m. and hosted by Gina Hyams, local author of the new book kit, "Christmas Cookie Contest in a Box," part of a series that also includes pie and chili contests.
Finish off the fun with a rousing round of Christmas carols courtesy of the Taconic High School Honors Chorus.
Tickets to the animal show cost $15 for adults, and $8 for children, which includes museum admission. All other activities are free with regular admission of $13 for adults and $6 for children. Information: www.berkshire
museum.org, (413) 443-7171.
Lenox Caroling Festival
Hundreds of singers from near and far will fill the streets of Lenox with the sweet sound of music this weekend as the Caroling Festival returns for a second year to the historic downtown district.
The fun begins on Friday at dusk when Santa will arrive by fire truck for the lighting of the town tree, followed by carol singing in the park and a chance for little ones to tell Santa their secret wishes at the Community Center.
On Saturday, the choirs will take to the streets with joyful singing of Christmas carols and holiday tunes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as listeners vote for their favorite tunesmiths.
Bakers will compete on Sunday at the eighth Annual Gingerbread House Competition from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Lenox Library. See imaginative and traditional dwellings made by creative cooks both amateur and professional in this popular community contest.
Information on additional festival events and receptions at Ventfort Hall and Shakespeare & Company: lenoxcarolingfestival.org.