Sunday, December 5, 2010

5th Chanukah Candle Tonight, Follows a Daytime Party for the Special Kids of The Friendship Circle L.A.

5 Foot Tall Working Menorah With Candles
Handmade by an Ice Sculpture Artist
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

We've already lit Candle #5 this evening, but still wanted share some of the fun we had last night and today in our continuing celebration of Hanukkah.

The first days of the holiday this year have been so busy -- and we had a very full schedule of parties over the next days -- so we decided to make last night's Hanukkah celebration a quiet, stay-at-home family affair.
Dexter Wears His Chanukah Gift With Pride:  The Goldie Coat by Zack & Zoey
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

The highlight Saturday night at our house -- besides the menorah lighting, of course -- was another sleepover by Dexter the Miniature Pinscher who has begun to make more frequent appearances on this blog ever since he made his debut on MommyBlogExpert wearing Snug As A Bug's Red Doggie Pajamas.  

Last night my kids gave our favorite little canine a Chanukah present: a completely reversible Gold Lame & Leopard Dog Coat from Zack & Zoey.  When they put this on him one of my girls said, "Doesn't this little four-legged guy look kind of like Michael Jackson?"

Today was a bit more fast-paced and even more joyful than the night before because our whole family attended An Arctic Chanukah Party hosted by 501(c) non-profit The Friendship Circle of Los Angeles (FCLA)

A Smiling FCLA Volunteer at the Party 
These Dreidel Earrings Were Really Awesome
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

FCLA's mission is three-fold
  • To provide Jewish children who have special needs with a full range of social recreational and Judaic experiences
  • To provide their parents with respite and support
  • To enrich inspire and motivate Jewish teen through sharing of themselves with others
Above and Below: My Son and Other Teen Volunteers Play in The Snow With Little Ones
Photos by Janis Brett Elspas,

I am so proud to say that my 13 year-old son who has served as a volunteer for FCLA's Kung Fu group for several years, also helped out at Sunday's party.  His triplet sister decided to come along to the celebration too, and was so moved to action that she signed up today to start donating her time to work with the group's very young special kids.

FCLA Kids With Special Needs Enjoy The Snow
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

The party itself, which was free to all, was among one of the most inspirational holiday events I've ever attended.  In such a small space in just a few hours there was so much going on:  activities that would appeal to every age group from toddlers to teens.  The best part was that it appeared as if the teen volunteers out numbered the kids who directly benefit from FCLA's community services so there was a lot of one-on-one going on here this afternoon.

Snow is Made Right Before the Kids' Eyes
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

If you are wondering, yes it DID snow in Los Angeles today in FCLA's backyard thanks to the "snow" that was produced by Arctic Glacier on site.  As the kids watched, huge blocks of ice weighing hundreds of pounds moved down a conveyor belt and were magically transformed into snow flying out of an over-sized hose.  

As if that wasn't enough, while this was going on outside, the talented artists Victor and Antonio from Crystal Creations were at work in the main party room carving a kosher menorah over 5 feet high from a gigantic piece of ice as party-goers watched.

Rabbi Michy Leads the Group in Singing Chanukah Songs Together
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

FCLA Director Rabbi Michy, guitar in hand, along with some of the teens from the L.A. Jewish Homeschooler's Band, entertained as the organization's kids joined in a lively sing-along.   Then everyone enjoyed the lighting of the menorah with real candles placed in holders atop the crystal-like ice sculpture, followed by presents which were distributed to all FCLA's children.

A Young Marshmallow Menorah Builder Shows Off His Masterpiece
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

This party, for sure, was amazing on many different levels.  Multiple craft tables ran simultaneously -- all staffed with teen volunteers -- with special needs kids of every age making everything from marshmallow menorahs to faux stained glass dreidel windows.

FCLA Chocolate Custard Donuts
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

In keeping with the icy theme refreshments included hot chocolate for kids and cappuccino for caffeine-dependent adults like me.  There was even a separate room overflowing with what seemed like an endless amount of food ranging from hundreds of potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream to many dozens of jelly and custard doughnuts with "The Friendship Circle" hand-stenciled by volunteers on many of them.

What Didn't FCLA Think of When Planning This Party?
This Clever Sign for the Kids Actually Worked
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Seeing so many thoughtful teenagers working with these children in need -- all enjoying a fun-filled day of Hanukkah festivities together -- was truly heart-warming and a vision that I'm certain I will carry in my mind for the rest of my life.
Detail of the FCLA Chanukah 2010 Menorah
Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

Don't miss MommyBlogExpert's Other Hanukkah Posts
2nd Nite of Chanukah - Homemade Potato Latkes for Kids
1st Nite: in the Chanukah Mood With Adam Sandler & 8 Crazy Nights Song
Guess what my teen daughter is getting for Chanukah this year
Beyond Thanksgiving Pie: Moving into Hanukkah & the rest of the holidays
Really Memorable Gifts for Celebrating Hanukkah

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive payment or any other compensation associated with this particular post. See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one.

Please leave a comment: Tell what you think of the FCLA party post or alternately, feel free to share what you have been doing for Chanukah with your kids. 

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