Super-sized Hanukkah installation sparks kids’ creativity

Natasha (left) and Nyomi Male of Swampscott create designs on the Brighter Ignited installation.
PHOTO: Leigh Blander

Braving dark skies and below-freezing temperatures, dozens of local kids created bright designs on a super-sized interactive light display, as part of Hanukkah celebrations at Temple Emanu-El on Atlantic Avenue.

“We’re building a menorah,” said Natasha Male, 10, of Swampscott, who was working with her big sister, Nyomi, 11. “It’s really fun.”

The installation is called Brighter United and looks like a giant Lite Brite game. It’s a traveling art exhibit with Boston-based JArts, designed by Needham artist Tova Speter. Brighter United is visiting more than a dozen locations across the state this month, including the Museum of Fine Arts. Temple Emanu-El was its only stop on the North Shore.

Each peg in the installation features a hand-drawn image, including the sun symbolizing warmth and empathy, a lightning bolt representing focus, a star for guidance and a candle for kindling a flame in others.

“Each design represents a way we can ignite change in the world,” explained Peter Samiljan with JArts, who was running the event at Temple Emanu-El.

“This is a fun opportunity,” said Rabbi Alison Peiser, Temple Emanu-El’s educator. “The whole idea is that with Hanukkah and the winter solstice approaching, we want to bring more light into the world.”

Jordan London interacts with the Brighter United installation.
PHOTO: Leigh Blander

Jordan London, 11, was building his initials on the display. “My favorite pegs are the blue ones. I like the lighting bolts because they resemble the sky.”

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, runs Dec. 18-25. Upcoming Hanukkah celebrations in town include the following:

Temple Emanu-El will host a community menorah lighting on Sunday, Dec. 18, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. There will be dreidel games, jelly donuts, potato latkes, a Hanukkah sing-along and a magic show with award-winning magician George Saterial. Details HERE.

At Temple Sinai, 1 Community Road, Rabbi Michael Schwartz will lead the second in a series of breakfast talks called Eight Spiritual Gifts of Hanukkah, on how to create a more meaningful holiday on Sunday, Dec. 18, 9:30 a.m. Learn more at HERE

The community is also invited to Temple Sinai for Chinese food and a movie on Sat., Dec. 24, at 5:00 p.m. Bring your favorite menorah. Reserve your spot at 781-631-2762.

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