Celebrating Chanukah and Doing Mitzvot at Chabad of Downtown

Chabad of Downtown’s 2022 YJP Drinks & Dreidels Chanukah Party (Courtesy of Chabad of Downtown)

Chabad of Downtown is offering Baltimore’s young Jewish adult population an opportunity to do good for Israel while celebrating Chanukah.

The upcoming YJP Drinks & Dreidels Chanukah Party, to be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, coinciding with the first night of the holiday, features not only party staples like an open bar and gourmet Chanukah food, but a chance to support Israel through mitzvah work.

The Drinks & Dreidels party is the Chabad house’s latest gathering aimed at young professionals and graduate students aged 22-38. Young Jewish Professionals Baltimore, a program of Chabad of Downtown, frequently hosts Torah and parshah classes, as well as social get-togethers for young adults looking to connect with their local Jewish community.

“The most challenging part of [organizing] this event — and most events in our community — is learning how to market to and recruit young professionals who lead busy, active lives,” said Heather Brown, one of the party’s nine hosts and organizers. “The most rewarding part of every event is knowing that we are bringing together a wonderful, cohesive community of young Jewish professionals for a fun, enriching, memorable event.”

Brown herself became part of YJP Baltimore in 2020 in order to connect with other young Jewish professionals and better establish herself in the community. Since then, she’s helped plan its Tu B’Av and Purim parties, as well as previous Chanukah events.

Chabad of Downtown has been holding Chanukah parties for the last 15 years, said Rebbetzin Chani Druk, but the “Drinks & Dreidels” moniker was only created three years ago. Since then, the name has stuck.

“This year has a larger crowd of people who have RSVP’d than ever before,” Druk said. “I think so many Jews are looking to be part of a community now with all that’s going on.”

In addition to food and live music, Drinks & Dreidels also offers an opportunity for attendees to contribute toward aid efforts in Israel. The Chabad house will be collecting mitzvah pledges and giving out Shabbat candles, menorah kits, charity boxes and Chanukah cards to be donated to those in need. Additionally, the event will feature a spinner wheel that provides guests with a random mitzvah challenge.

“Part of our collective Jewish belief is that what we do in all areas of our lives has a spiritual, downstream effect. When we encounter adversity, challenges, hardship and cruelty, it is our duty to increase acts of lovingkindness,” Brown explained. Chabad of Downtown’s mitzvah effort, she added, ties into the Chanukah season because of how Jewish people were once persecuted by the Seleucids for their belief in God, the Torah and mitzvot.

“What better way to celebrate and honor this holiday than to perform an extra mitzvah?” Brown added.

Druk echoed this statement, saying that the best way for American Jews to show support for Israel is to gather and take action in their local community.

“All Jews are connected. When Jews in America connect with Torah and mitzvah, it strengthens all of the Jewish people and especially our people in Israel,” she said. “At the party, we are gifting mitzvot in honor of the safety and well-being of our brethren in Israel.”

In addition to the Drinks & Dreidels Chanukah Party, Chabad of Downtown is holding another Chanukah party on Dec. 11 for people of all ages. Druk noted that interested young professionals should also keep an eye out for their First Fridays Shabbat dinners, which are themed — December’s is based around Peruvian culture and cuisine.

“The greatest antidote to antisemitism is Jewish pride and Jewish involvement,” she said.

Registration information for Drinks & Dreidels can be found here.

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