Taking every opportunity to express gratitude, we give thanks today for a holiday that compels us to stuff ourselves silly with jelly doughnuts and latkes.

Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, starts at sundown this evening when giant electric menorahs will be lit at Independence Hall and malls at Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, and Exton Square, while in Northern Liberties, a giant solar-powered menorah near Third and Poplar Streets will be lit at 5 p.m.

Here's a summary of festivities scheduled through Dec. 25. All events are open to the public and free, except where noted. A full schedule with daily updates is posted at www.jewishphilly.org.


Lighting the First Candle. 7:30, Congregation Leyv Ha Ir at the Ethical Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square.


Festival, 1-4 p.m. Kaiserman Jewish Community Center, 45 Haverford Rd, Wynnewood. Games, crafts, latkes, art. 610-896-7770, Ext. 102 or www.phillyjcc.com

Amazing Technicolor Hanukkah, 3-4:30 p.m. Ohev Shalom of Bucks County, 944 Second St. Pike, Richboro. Performances by Give and Take Jugglers; cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat; Ohev Shalom youth choir; display of dreidels and menorahs; spin art, moon bounce, latkes, and doughnuts for sale. Admission: $10. 215-322-9595.

Latkepalooza, 2-4 p.m. Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St. Taste the city's trendiest gourmet latkes; plus crafts, vendors, music. Advance admission: $15, children $10; $3 more for each at the door. 215-545-4400 gershmany.org

Hanukkah concert at Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square. 7 and 8 p.m. performances by Westminster Choir College Singers from Rider University; unique Jewish music; menorah lighting at each performance. Free with gardens admission of $16, less for seniors, students, children. 610-388-1000 or longwoodgardens.org.

Dec. 24

What's a Jew to Do? 6 p.m. family-friendly event, Kaiserman JCC, 45 Haverford Rd., Wynnewood. Comic story-teller Jon Koons, mentalists Larry & Raven, plus a Chinese dinner. Babysitting and activities for young children during the performance. RSVP 610-896-7770 Ext. 102 or phillyjcc.com

Moo Shu Jew Show. Joy Tsin Lau restaurant, 1026 Race St. Eight-course Chinese banquet and comedy show. Admission for 6 p.m. 12/24 show is $62 in advance, $70 at the door. Admission for 12/25 noon show is $45 in advance, $50 at the door. www.gershmany.org.

Dec. 25

Being Jewish at Christmas; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. National Museum of American Jewish History, Independence Mall East, 55 N. Fifth St.; Jon Nelson's Rockin' Kids Revue, comedian Michael Rosman, and Wondergy, fun-with-science entertainers. Free for museum members, military, children under 2; others $5. 215-923-3811 or nmajh.org.