For 11 months out of the year, the Hefter family lawn is a fairly unremarkable yard like any other in Pikesville. But from Nov. 28 through Dec. 19, their house becomes a Chanukah-themed wonderland complete with blue-and-white lights, giant inflatables and an electronic sign declaring the house as “The Chanukah House.”
This year marks The Chanukah House of Pikesville’s second year of operation. Passersby can enjoy the house’s signature light displays from noon-9 p.m. during its run, and the Hefter family will be lighting the menorah outside during Chanukah itself. From Dec. 7 through Dec. 14, the family will also be taking specific days to honor Jewish war veterans, first responders in Pikesville and Maryland public servants. The Chanukah House of Pikesville is located at 101 Brightside Ave.
Since its opening, The Chanukah House of Pikesville has become a real community effort and is now supported by several local businesses and Jewish organizations — members of Chabad of West Pikesville and the Chabad Israeli Center of Baltimore will be joining the Hefters for certain menorah lightings, and sponsors include area businesses such as Shabsi’s Judaica Center, Park Heights Roofing and the nearby Caramel’s Pizza.
“We figured that the event was going to be a bit bigger this year, because people likely heard about it from last year,” said Wendy Hefter, who organizes and decorates the Chanukah House along with her husband, David. “And because of what’s happening in Israel, people are really looking for some Jewish happiness. That’s when [the event] really started expanding.”
Wendy and David Hefter were initially inspired by a similar Chanukah House in Houston, Texas, as well as the previous Park Heights Chanukah House, which ceased operations in 2009 when its owners moved away. They found that many locals missed the original Chanukah House and were happy to continue the tradition.
“We had people come and say ‘I used to come to the Chanukah House when I was a kid,’ and those people were bringing their own kids,” Wendy Hefter recalled of the house’s 2022 run. “We had four-generation families, we had people coming from an hour away, we had every denomination of Judaism and we had non-Jews who thanked us for sharing the holiday with them.”
In addition to returning decorations from last year, Wendy and David have added several new decorations and “characters” to be part of the display. Wendy typically sources decorations from local thrift shops and post-holiday sales, while her husband decorates the yard.
“We appreciate that people are spreading the word because we’re not in this to make money,” Wendy Hefter said. “We’re just in this to share with people and show Jewish pride, and we love seeing the looks on the kids’ faces. So please just keep bringing people to celebrate the holiday with us, and be proud of being Jewish.”
Here’s the menorah-lighting schedule for The Chanukah House:
Dec. 7: 5:30 p.m. (Chabad of West Pikesville and Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company)
Dec. 8: 4 p.m.
Dec. 9: 7 p.m.
Dec. 10: 6 p.m. (honoring Jewish War Veterans)
Dec. 11: 6 p.m. (honoring Pikesville Precinct first responders)
Dec. 12: 6 p.m. (honoring Maryland public servants)
Dec. 13: 6 p.m. (Israeli night with Chabad Israeli Center)
Dec. 14: 6 p.m.