HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas. – www.MamaDoni.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Dec 17th & 18th 2016
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Creeam Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

[Originally aired Dec 17, 2011]

Save

HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas. – www.MamaDoni.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
December 5th & 6th, 2015
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Title track from album, “Chanukah Fever: 13 Macca-beats For the Whole Family.”


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Creeam Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas. – www.MamaDoni.com

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
December 13th & 14th, 2014
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Title track from album, “Chanukah Fever: 13 Macca-beats For the Whole Family.”


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Creeam Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 30th & Dec 1st 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Title track from new album, “Chanukah Fever: 13 Macca-beats For the Whole Family.”- www.MamaDoni.com


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Cream Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

22 Community Highlights: Boreal Forest to Kitchen Science. Symphony to Contra Dance.

Looking for a non-commercial gift to give your kids? One that promotes creative-free play while offering lessons in chemistry and math… and doesn’t cost that much? Why not put together a box of kitchen ingredients with directions on how to make gak, slime, play dough, bubbles,  paint and chalk?! Check out the July post of, “Let’s Play: Tactile Play” by Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Carrie St. John. She includes recipes to print out for all of these, and your kids will have a blast getting icky, goopy and gloppy in the kitchen!

Boreal Forest to Kitchen Science. Papercrafts to Winter Crafts. Symphony to Contra Dance… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

NATURE STUDIES

Volunteer as a Citizen Scientists this Saturday, Dec. 15th as a participate in the annual Mass Audubon Christmas Bird Count! The event relies on citizen scientists to locate and count species of birds – and the data collected is used to assess local bird populations. Kids can learn to identify and find species of birds, practice using field guides, and learn how to draw conclusions from their own data. Contact a CBC facilitator nearest you.

Explore Notchview’s Boreal Forest with Aimee Gelinas and the Trustees of Reservations this Saturday too. Learn to identify trees such as spruce, fir, and Christmas fern, and search for signs of intrepid winter-battling mammals. Happens in Windsor.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Inspiring interest and encouragement in reading and writing can come to children in many ways. Having a themed celebration inspired by a book, storytimes, reading to dogs or even meeting authors, all have the potential inspire a love for reading and writing.

On Saturday morning, Community Action is hosting Snow Day, centered around Ezra Jack Keats’ well-known children’s book, The Snowy Day. Celebrate winter by making snowflakes and ornament, and enjoying a storytime in Greenfield. Every child will receive a free copy of their very own book!

Later in the day on Saturday in Westfield, young readers can Read with Rover at the Westfield Athenaeum. Specially trained therapy dogs will be at the library to serve as patient, calm, non-judgemental reading buddies for kids who are working on reading aloud.

In Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn, also on Saturday afternoon, families can meet four local authors! Sarah Sedgwick Genocchio (A Stockbridge Childhood), Pat Pope (Johanna’s Gift), Janet McKinstry (Rosie and Friends, Unleashed in Berkshire County), Susan Geller and Susan Merrill (I Live in Stockbridge) will all share their books. Older children can find inspiration in writing short stories by hearing these authors share what it takes to be a published author and by asking them questions about their experiences as a writer.

STEM

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) based learning opportunities can be found in simple play, papercrafts and even in the mixing of ingredients found in your kitchen. For example, basic math, physics and engineering skills can be practiced with LEGOs. Several libraries offer their youth patrons a chance to participate in free LEGO clubs, including: Sunderland Library on Saturday morning; Ramsdell Library in Housatonic, also on Saturday morning; and the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 19th

Origami and papercrafts are a way to practice geometry. The Arms Library in Shelburne Falls hosts Paper Capers on Saturday afternoon, a free event that includes papercrafts of all kinds. Families can make accordion books, ornaments, beads, and more!

Get a taste of chemistry as a mad scientist at Kitchen Kaboom! at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday morning! Along with the help of the museum’s very own crazy chemist, kids can learn how to do exciting and surprising (and safe!) experiments with regular household materials.

HISTORY

We’ve mention a couple of ways recently to explore history at two ongoing December events, including Old Sturbridge’s Christmas by Candlelight and Historic Deerfield’s Heritage Holiday. Another opportunity is by learning about the origins of the holiday carol, 12 Days of Christmas. On Saturday afternoon, find out about the possible symbolism behind the carol at the Jones Library in Amherst, where Dr. Thomas Bernard (professor at Springfield College) will share his ideas.

MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS

There’s still time to make your own holiday gifts! Sunday, Dec. 16th, is the Make-and-Take Craft Fair with fun and interesting holiday crafts at the Montague Grange! The fair will include activities for crafters of all ages, including beeswax candles, miniature terrariums, jewelry, and ornaments.

Then on Wednesday evening, visit Art Party Studio in Easthampton for an evening of wintry holiday crafts. There will be all sorts of special holiday materials to use – experiment with unique media (like glittery twigs, bells, and more!), and create a holiday masterpiece to give or decorate with.

What grandmother won’t love a hand-knitted scarf from their grandchild, dropped stitches and all?! Kids ages 7-11 can spend Thursday afternoon, Dec. 20th, knitting away at the Monson Library. Instruction will be available for casting on and off and doing basic knit and purl stitches. Kids who are ready to move on to more difficult projects can get support, too!

MUSIC, DANCE & SONG

Hear the Pioneer Valley Symphony play holiday favorites at the annual Family Holiday Concert in Greenfield on Saturday evening. The show will also feature performances by the Pioneer Valley Symphony Chorus and the Greenfield High School Chorus.

Go contra dancing on Saturday evening in Lenox. Dances are a great way to get exercise, learn about rhythm, and gain better balance and movement skills. Contra dancing provides a friendly intergenerational environment in which people of all ages can contribute and participate equally.

Sing along to songs for the holidays at the Hubbard Library in Ludlow on Tuesday evening, Dec. 18th. David Polansky will share songs for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the entire winter season.

HIKES

Join the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in exploring the Clam River in Sandisfield on Wednesday morning. The evergreen-filled property bumps up against the river – explore the area, search for animal signs, and enjoy the winter air.

Hike Chapel Brook with the Trustees of Reservations in Ashfield on Thursday morning. The easy to moderate hike will include lots of opportunities to spot animal signs, enjoy the crisp winter air, and get some great exercise.

Northfield Mountain celebrates the solstice this year with a hike on the cross-country ski trails on Friday evening, Dec. 21st. BYO headlamp to light the way! The trek will be filled with facts and quotes about (and celebrating!) the winter solstice.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

[Photo credit: (ccl) Mike Allyn]

Suggested Events for December 15th-21st, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

If your kids are still looking forward to meeting Santa there are several more non-commercial venues to see Santa this weekend, including: Lenox Community Center; Sunderland Library; Holyoke Merry-Go-Round; Northampton Senior Center; Hinsdale Community Center; and Easthampton Family Center.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Here are six holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving.

Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker are two classics that come alive during the holiday season. Many families make it a yearly tradition to see one or the other (or both)! This weekend and coming week there are several opportunities:

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 14-15 & 21-22

Tom McCabe’s PaintBox Theatre presents, A Christmas Carol at Northampton High School: Dec. 14th at 7pm; Dec. 15th at 10:30am & 1pm; Dec. 21st at 7pm; Dec. 22nd at 10:30am & 1pm. A child-friendly romp featuring lots of audience participation and holiday cheer. You’ll join in an invisible snowball, snowball fight, and everyone will learn how to waltz. Fifty children artists have drawn pictures of the story’s characters & locales which will be projected above the stage during the performance. Intermission features an audience carol sing, Several audience members will be drafted to play parts including Tiny Tim. Tickets are $7. General Seating – Tickets available online at BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door. More info at PaintBoxTheatre.org.

Through Sept 8, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, on view beginning November 17 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizes video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays to create an exciting learning environment for all ages. The exhibition includes a magnificent specimen of an adult African lion as well as a lioness’s pelt, claws, and a skull that will be available to encourage hands-on exploration. Visitors try on a gauntlet as they try to balance a wooden block that approximates the size and weight of a falcon for a first-hand experience of the difficulty and delicate balance needed in falconry. Visit clarkart.edu to learn about the exhibition and other family events and programs.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR VACATION WEEK CAMP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Win tickets to final performance on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 12/24, 12noon.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

A celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation will be held in the Pioneer Valley. On Jan. 1st at 2pm, churches throughout the valley will ring their bells to recognize the moment the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, the document that led to the permanent end of slavery. In 1863, at 2pm on New Year’s Day, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, providing that all persons held as slaves would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free,” resulting in the permanent abolition of slavery. Residents are urged to join in this celebration, encouraging their towns & churches to participate by ringing their bells at 2pm on New Year’s Day. For info, contact Robert Romer, rhromer@amherst.edu.

Child Care of the Berkshires writes, “Berkshire Youth Mentoring is gearing up for its 1st Bowl-a-Thon on Saturday, February 9th, 1-7pm., at Mt. Greylock Bowl in North Adams, MA. Save the date and prepare to have fun as we bring back Bowling for Kid’s Sake to the Berkshires. Money raised through this event stays right here in our community. Berkshire Youth Mentoring Program of Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc., builds dynamic mentoring relationships to expand youths’ interests, joys, strengths and possibilities for the future. We are seeking dedicated community members who can volunteer 1-2 hours a week. Contact Alex at 413-663-6593 or alenski@ccberkshire.org for more info.”

The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens offers a safe and welcoming setting to process the many feelings associated with grief and loss. Any family with a child ages 5-18 years who has experienced the death of a close family member is invited to participate in our Sunday afternoon groups. Groups are offered at no charge. New groups will be forming in February, and will meet at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please call 413-584-7086 x124 or email Shelly Bathe Lenn at shelly.thegarden@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 15th-21st, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

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31 Community Highlights: Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker.

9 Chanukah events are featured for the next week in our post, Chanukah Highlights in Western MA. Families of all backgrounds are welcome and many events can serve as a celebration for Chanukah or a family exploration of Jewish history and traditions.

Quarry Hikes to Animal Adaptations. Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


HIKES/NATURE STUDIES

On Saturday morning families can preregister for one of two hikes. The first hike takes place at Peaked Mountain in Monson where participants can learn to search for signs of animals who are still around for the winter. The Trustees of Reservations – and local naturalist Kevin Kopchynski – will guide the exploratory hike.

Also on Saturday morning, Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries will sponsor a hike at the historic Becket Quarry. Families can look for moose tracks and industrial archaeology at the 300-acre Historic Becket Quarry and Forest Preserve. Located high atop the Berkshire Highlands and preserved by the Becket Land Trust, this former granite quarry offers a feast of fauna, glacial erratics and rich helpings of cultural history. This site features artifacts of the former Hudson-Chester Company that was in operation for almost a century until the 1960s and is often called a “ghost quarry” for its spooky, abandoned appearance. Best for ages 10yo and older.

HISTORY

Historic Deerfield continues their celebration of the holidays with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, silhouette making (a historic craft), and craft making for visitors all weekend.

In the afternoon on Saturday, the Wistariahurst Museum invites families to make Victorian crafts at their Holiday Crafts for the Family event in Holyoke. Learn how to make Christmas crackers, beautiful beaded ornaments, lanterns and more.

In the evening, families can celebrate the holiday season the old-fashioned way at Old Sturbridge Village while learning about the history of many holiday traditions. The historic village’s Christmas by Candlelight series offers families a chance to enjoy non-commercial, relaxed holiday festivities and activities and takes place Fri-Sun through Dec. 23.

Other opportunities to explore local history this weekend is at the Lenox Historical Society‘s annual Holiday Open House, a tour and lecture at the Shaw-Hudson House in Plainfield, and a tour of Arrowhead, home of Herman Melville, in Pittsfield.

THEATER & DANCE

This week there are a number of holiday theater and dance performances happening throughout Western MA to get your family into the holiday spirit! On Saturday evening in Northampton, the Northampton High School presents their Fall One-Act Festival and Smith College students present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and on Sunday, Ventfort Hall in Lenox hosts a Christmas handchime concert.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Mill City Productions in North Adams presents, “Fireside Yuletide,” a theatrical reading of classic family holiday tales, and the Shea Theater in Turners Falls hosts “Welcome Yule,” a performance of stories, songs, and dance to drive away the dark of winter.

There are a couple of ballet productions of The Nutcracker all weekend too. The Pioneer Valley Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” at the Academy of Music in Northampton, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet present “The Nutcracker” at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Later in the week on Wednesday & Thursday, Dec. 12 & 13, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Academy presents an annual Holiday Jubilee Winter Showcase, also at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Looking for a Parents’ Night Out? Shakespeare and Company presents David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at the Bernstein Theater in Lenox, every Friday-Sunday through Dec. 30.

HOLIDAY STROLLS CONTINUE

The 7th annual holiday celebration, “A Special Day in Northfield,” happens all day on Saturday. This non-commercial community holiday celebration offers families an opportunity to explore, be creative, and enjoy what Northfield has to offer! Local artists and antiques stores will be open, too, so if you want to do any holiday shopping, you can shop locally and/or handmade. Another holiday stroll that happens on Saturday is the 4th Annual Dickens Days Village Stroll happening all day in downtown Westfield.

Later in the day on Saturday, explore downtown Great Barrington during their Holiday Stroll – the town is decorated for the holidays, the air is cool and crisp, and the town is alive with holiday spirit. Visit locally owned shops to get a jump start on shopping locally (and potentially handmade!) for the holidays.

On Thursday evening, Dec. 13th, downtown Turners Falls comes alive for the holidays for, “It’s a Wonderful Night!” The town will be filled with festive storefront displays, roving musicians, caroling, a tree lighting, and a free screening of, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the Shea Theater at 8pm. Some shops will have extended hours for the evening, in order to encourage visitors to shop locally for the holidays.

SINGING

The annual Lenox Caroling Festival takes place this weekend – and competition will take place on Saturday at numerous locations throughout the town. Visit one – or all! – of the locations to hear a variety of beautifully performed holiday music.

On Sunday afternoon in Northampton, the Whole Children Chorus and the Florence Community Band perform Songs of the Season at Northampton High School, and in Pittsfield, Berkshire Lyric presents, “Deck the Halls,” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, featuring the Blafield Children’s Chorus, the Monument Mountain High School Chorus, the Spartones, and Guademaus.

The Northampton Community Music Center brings together choral groups from all over the Pioneer Valley for an evening Holiday Choral Festival for all ages on Monday, Dec. 10 at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel in Northampton.

PARENT WORKSHOPS

On Monday evening, the Northampton Parents Center is hosting a free workshop titled, “Talking To Your Kids About Sex: A Workshop for Parents of Young Children,” at Bridge Street School in Northampton.

The Collaborative for Educational Services host a free Active Child workshop on Tuesday evening at the South Hadley Family Center for parents to get advice and learn strategies for parenting a spirited child.

ARCHEOLOGY

Archaeologists must often apply a skill set similar to those used by forensics experts – they look at remnants of lives (caves, basements, stone walls, etc.) and use tiny clues in order to deduce the use of the place, item, etc. On Monday evening, Dec. 10th, older students and their parents can learn how archaeologists have used these skills to determine information about the history of the earliest European settlers in New England at Greenfield High School, where Central Connecticut State professor Ken Feder presents, “Monk’s Caves, Sacrificial Altars, and Wandering Celts.”

PASTRY ARTS

Whole Foods Market in Hadley is hosting a cooking class for 8-12yo kids on Tuesday evening, Dec. 11. Participants will make whole-grain cookies and bread while learning about making healthy choices for eating and developing healthy eating habits.

ARTS & CRAFTS

Visit Art Party Studio in Easthampton on Wednesday, Dec. 12th for an evening of wintry holiday crafts. There will be all sorts of special holiday materials to use – experiment with unique media (like glittery twigs, bells, and more!), and create a holiday masterpiece.

ANIMAL STUDIES

How do New England animals survive the winter? They all have unique adaptations that allow them to deal with the cold temperatures and changing food landscape. Learn about these adaptations and the creatures that you may see in the winter at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Friday morning, Dec. 14th.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

[Photo credit: (ccl) Jordan Chark]

Suggested Events for December 8th-14th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Did you know that Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world? Discover more about the history of holiday traditions at Old Stubridge Christmas by Candlelight.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 10am-5pm in Franklin CountyHOLIDAY STROLL: 7th annual holiday celebration, “A Special Day in Northfield.” The event is a non-commercial community holiday celebration that offers families an opportunity to explore, be creative, and enjoy what Northfield has to offer! Local artists and antiques stores will be open, too, so if you want to do any holiday shopping, you can shop locally and/or handmade. 413-498-5921 or 413-498-2414. Free parking behind 105 Main Street. Northfield, MA (FREE)

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 11am in Berkshire CountyHOLIDAYS/MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The Berkshire Museum hosts the Festival of Trees Family Day today!  The event includes fun family activities, performances, and, of course, the museum’s hall filled with beautiful and uniquely decorated Christmas trees.  There will be special events taking place throughout the day, including a visit from some of the fascinating animals at Burpee’s Zoo (11am), cookie decorating and a cookie contest (supplies for decorating provided, BYO cookies for contest – participants should bring 4 dozen of their favorite cookie and register in advance), and performances by the Taconic High School chorus and the Berkshire Singers.  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 1-4pm in Hampden CountyVICTORIAN HOLIDAY: The Wistariahurst Museum invites families to make Victorian crafts at their Holiday Crafts for the Family event. Learn how to make Christmas crackers, beautiful beaded ornaments, lanterns and more! Reservations suggested.   Santa will also be at the museum to read “The Night Before Christmas” at 4:30pm by the fire. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA (>$)

On Sunday, Dec 9th from 12noon-4pm in Hampshire CountyHANNUKAH: Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with the Yiddish Book Center!  There will be a performance of The Magic Dreidel at 2pm, before which will be two workshops for families that will teach Hannukah songs and lines from the show so that community members can participate in the performance!  A workshop for ages 8+ takes place from 12noon-12:30pm, and a workshop for ages 3-8 takes place from 12:30-1:30pm.  All are welcome!  413-256-4900.  1021 West Street.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)

SANTA SIGHTINGS

If your kids are looking forward to meeting Santa, but you just can’t bear the thought of going to the mall, there are several non-commercial venues to see Santa this weekend.  Here are a few:

  • Dalton: Santa at the Dalton CRA on Saturday.
  • Florence: Breakfast with Santa at Look Park on Saturday.
  • Holyoke: Santa visit Holyoke City Hall on Saturday.
  • Holyoke: Santa at Wistariahurst Museum on Saturday.
  • Lenox Dale: Santa at Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday.
  • Westfield: Breakfast with Santa at Westfield State University on Saturday.
  • West Springfield: Santa at West Springfield Senior Center Community Breakfast on Sunday.
  • West Springfield: Santa at Mitteneague Park on Sunday.

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 7th-9th

Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration. Music, dance, songs and stories celebrating the return of the light. The 28th annual show with songs about feasting and festivities, a lively Mummer’s Play, and a traditional folk story. The Shea Theater at 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls on Dec. 7th & 8th at 7:30pm and Sun., Dec. 9th at 2pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors & children, four & under free. Bring a non-perishable item for the Franklin Area Survival Center and receive a free snack at intermission! Reserve tickets at 413-863-2281 or purchase in advance at Jones Library in Amherst, Broadside Books in Northampton, the World Eye Bookstore in Greenfield, or online at Brattleborotix.com. More info: www.welcomeyule.org. 413-665-3206.

Dec. 7th-9th

Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 34th annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre: Fri, Dec. 7 at 4pm & 7:30pm, and Sat, Dec. 8 & Sun, Dec. 9. at 1pm & 4:30pm. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

Dec. 8th

Meet the Illustrator at the Montague Bookmill (440 Greenfield Rd. Montague). Brendan Flannelly-King is a children’s illustrator from Ashfield and his first picture book is coming out! Come celebrate Good News Nelson (written by Jodi Moore and published by Story Pie Press) with him as he signs, sells and reads from the book Saturday, December 8th at the Montague Bookmill from 11am-1:30pm. Its a heartwarming story of neighbors helping neighbors, youth empowerment, animal rescue, compassion and friendship with adorable little kitties throughout! Visit www.storypiepress.com to learn more about Good News Nelson. A portion of proceeds will go to The Humane Society of the United States and Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

Dec. 9th

Fire in the Darkness: A Winter Hanukkah Festival. As winter solstice approaches, Hanukkah is a welcome opportunity to bathe in light. Everyone is warmly welcomed to a joyous Hanukkah celebration to celebrate the Jewish festival of light. Performances by local fire dancers, live music, latkes, candle-lighting and a toasty bonfire. Dress warmly! Sunday, November 9th from 4-6pm at Congregation Bnai Israel, 253 Prospect Street, in Northampton, MA. 413-584-3593. Contact rabbijacob@cbinorthampton.org for more information.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 8th-14th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

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Chanukah Highlights in Western MA, 2012

Chanukah Celebrations & Performances

The National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst hosts a Chanukah celebration for all ages on Sunday, Dec. 9th from 10am – 4pm. The day’s events include The Magic Dreidel, a theatrical and musical presentation of the story of Chanukah by the nationally touring Grumbling Gryphons. Also featured are hands-on music, dance and art workshops prior to the performance.

Celebrate and learn about Chanukah with the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst!  On Sunday, December 9th, the Center is hosting a day full of music, dance, theater, and art, all centered around teaching and learning about the story of Chanukah and the traditions that accompany the holiday.  The most exciting part of the event, however, is that participants in the day’s workshops will learn songs, dances, and maybe even some lines and will be able to participate in a performance of The Magic Dreidel later in the day!  The show, directed by Leslie Evans, features a live Klezmer band and, while it includes a full cast of professional actors, will be performed as a collaborative community show with lots of audience participation.

Kids ages 3-7 can take part in a workshop (from 12:30-1:30pm) on music and dance which will teach them basic songs and accompanying dance steps,  while kids ages 8+ (and grown-ups, too!) will learn lines and stage choreography (from 12noon-1:30pm).

The curtain rises at 2pm, and visitors wishing to be audience members rather than participants are more than welcome!  Families of all backgrounds are welcome at the Yiddish Book Center, and the event can serve as a celebration for Chanukah or a family exploration of Jewish history and traditions.  For more information, contact the Yiddish Book Center at 413-256 4900 or visit yiddishbookcenter.org.  ($)

Other Chanukah Highlights in Western MA:

Saturday, Dec. 8th

Recording artist Mama Doni will be the guest DJ for a “Heart of Chanukah” radio rebroadcast of Hilltown Family Variety Show on Northampton radio station WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) from 9-10am. Encore airs on Sunday, Dec. 9th from 7-8am. Podcast available at www.HilltownFamilies.org immediately following Saturday’s broadcast.

Celebrate Hannukah at Temple Israel! Starting at 6:30pm, the Temple will host a community celebrate with latkes, dreidel-playing, donuts, games, and songs.  All are welcome – bring a menorah to light if you wish.  27 Pierce Street.  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

Sunday, Dec. 9th

Felicia Sloin, a Jewish “Entertain-ucator” uses music, percussion, and movement to engage all ages in a celebration of Jewish holidays and culture.  She will be giving two performances with puppeteer Kate Holdsworth joining her.  The first performance will the at 11:30am at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire (270 State Road) in Great Barrington.  The second performance will be at 3pm at the Berkshire Mall Macy’s Court (Old State Road) in Lanesboro.  (FREE)

The Congregational B’Nai Israel is celebrating Hannukah from 4-6pm with an all-ages community event!  There will be a bonfire (and fire dancing!), live music, latkes, candles, and more.  Families can extend their celebrations of the holiday, or learn about Jewish traditions.  253 Prospect Street.  Northampton, MA.  (FREE)

LYA hosts Chanuka Wonderland from 11am-2pm, an afternoon filled with Chanukah activities and crafts.  There will be face painting and interactive Chanukah games. The program will end with the Magic of Joe Bongio.   Chanukah Wonderland is sponsored by Beis Medrash Lubavitch and is open to the entire community. 413-567-8665.  1148 Converse Street.  Longmeadow, MA. (FREE)

Monday, Dec. 10th

LYA hosts a celebration for Hannukah from 5:30-7:30pm.  The event includes dinner (featuring latkes and donuts, of course!), a menorah lighting, a performance by the LYA choir, and – as a special event! – a visit from Bubble Trouble with Jeff Boyer!  Reservations suggested.  413-567-8665.  1148 Converse Street.  Longmeadow, MA.  ($)

Wednesday, Dec. 12th

The Jewish Community of Amherst celebrates Hannukah from 5-7:30pm with a community party!  There will be live music, holiday food, games, and a celebration of light for all.  BYO candles and menorah if you have one.  742 Main Street.  Amherst, MA.  (<$)

HFVS Heart Of Chanukah Show with Guest DJ, Mama Doni (Podcast/Radio Show)

Listen to Podcast:

The Heart of Chanukah
Mama Doni Guest DJ Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Dec 17th & 18th 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Title track from new album, “Chanukah Fever: 13 Macca-beats For the Whole Family.”- www.MamaDoni.com


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

The Heart of Chanukah hosted with Mama Doni (Doni Zasloff Thomas) Guest DJ Playlist with special guests Millie, Alexander, and Chris Thomas

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Mama Doni- “Chanukah Fever” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Mama Doni- “The Legend of Sour Creeam Vs Apple Sauce” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Graham Clarke- “Five Little Latkes” [American Blue]
  • Kugelplex- “Still Playing For Latkes” [Ceci N’est Pas Klezmer]
  • Groovebarbers- “I Had A Little Dreidel” [Glory]
  • Mama Doni- “La Vida Dreidel” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Tor Hyams- “This is Chanukah” [This is Chanukah]
  • Mama Doni- “The Funky Gold Menorah” [Chanukah Fever]
  • The Hit Crew- “8 Little Lights of Mine” [Kids Happy Hanukah]
  • Alisa Fineman- “Ocho Kandelikas” [Closing the Distance; Poems, Prayers & Love Songs]
  • STORYTIME: “Too Many Latkes,” written & illustrated by Richard Codor, published by Behrman House Publishers
  • Ruby & Ava Lockner- “Is it Chanukah or Hannukah?” [Just One Angel]
  • Mama Doni- “Land of Sufganiyot” [Chanukah Fever]
  • Billy Sherwood- “Rockin’ Hannukah” [Ulitmate Holiday Party Vol 1]
  • Woodie Guthrie- “Hannukah Dance”
  • Michele Citrin- “Pass The Candle” [Lights, Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Craig Taubman- “Maotzur” [Lights Vol 2, A Hanukah Sampler]
  • Mama Doni- “Eight” [Chanukah Fever]

The Heart of Chanukah Comes to the Hilltown Family Variety Show

Mama Doni Brings The Heart of Chanukah
to the Hilltown Family Variety Show
On Saturday, Dec 17th, 9-10am

Chanukah is about hope and spiritual light, and it's a time to be with friends and family and celebrate the light in our lives. We eat lots of fried food on this holiday, like latkes (pictured here) and jelly donuts (called sufganiyot) to remember the miracle that happened with the oil, and we play a game called dreidel with Chanukah gelt (small coins, either real or chocolate)!! So much fun!'

Hot on the heels of a tremendously successful summer tour, the fall/winter Mama Doni National Tour has begun! Parents’ Choice Award winner, Mama Doni is thrilled to come home for the holidays, highlighting the Chanukah season with a number of festive concerts in December, and she’ll also be “Guest DJ” for a  special “Heart of Chanukah” radio broadcast of Hilltown Family Variety Show on Northampton radio station WXOJ-LP (Valley Free Radio)  on Saturday, December 17 at  9am and Sunday, December 18 at 7am. 

Looking forward to conveying the joyous spirit of Chanukah in a fun and warm-hearted way on her Hilltown Family Variety Show segment, Mama Doni explains, “The Jewish holiday of Chanukah literally lights up our homes! Chanukah is also called ‘The Festival of Lights,’ referring to the flames that we light on our menorahs on each of the holiday’s eight nights. The story of Chanukah is a celebration of the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. It also commemorates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when there was only enough for one day.

Mama Doni plans a lively program of songs and stories for Chanukah, including musical selections from Sha Na Na, The GrooveBarbers, and Woody Guthrie, along with Mama Doni Band originals, including “Chanukah Fever,” “Latke Man,” and “Honey. This Ain’t Money.”   She’ll also read a Chanukah story,  offer some great family activities for the holiday, and share some of her favorite Chanukah recipes, such as Judah Mac-N-Cheese and Choco-latkes.

Podcast and playlist will be posted to www.HilltownFamilies.org immediately following Saturday’s airing on Valley Free Radio at 10am on Dec. 17th, 2011.

ABOUT DONI ZASLOFF THOMAS

Doni Zasloff Thomas, a.k.a. Mama Doni, is the lead singer/songwriter of The Mama Doni Band, honored with a 2011 Parents’ Choice® Award for their recent release, Shabbat Shaboom, and winner of the Simcha Award for “Inspiring Joy Through Music” in competition with more than 100 bands from 15 different countries at the 2008 International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. The band celebrates Jewish culture with irrepressible zest in its interactive family rock concerts filled with catchy pop songs that break the mold of traditional Jewish music. Quirky, offbeat, and unpredictable, The Mama Doni Band offers up a contagious and unexpected blend of reggae, rock, disco, Latin, klezmer and “Jewgrass” – all woven together with a hip Jewish sensibility. Enthused the Miami Herald, “Not since Woody Allen’s Radio Days has American Jewish youth culture been celebrated with such a sublime mix of silly and substantive.”

Mama Doni’s recordings are available nationwide, as CDs and digital downloads.  Find out more at www.mamadoni.com.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Joshua Bousel)]

Hanukkah in Western MA

Not Your Grandparents' Shtel: Exploring Jewish Culture in Western Mass by Amy Meltzer

Hanukkah in Western MA

One way we celebrate is by displaying all our menorahs, from the fancy one we received as a wedding gift to the ones made by our children in preschool and kindergarten, and lighting at least two each night. (Photo credit: Amy Meltzer)

If you aren’t Jewish, Hanukkah may be the only Jewish holiday you’ve ever heard of. But in fact, it’s a relatively minor holiday. It falls into the surprisingly large category of Jewish holidays which can be neatly summarized as follows: someone tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.

In this case, the “someone” refers to  Antiochus, a ruler in ancient Israel who prohibited the practice of Judaism. A small and unlikely group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, stood up to the tyrant and ultimately defeated Antiochus in battle. When they retook possession of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life at the time, they discovered that it had been defiled with idols and pigs. According to tradition, when the Maccabees sought to rededicate the Temple (the word Hanukkah means dedication) they could only find one day’s worth of pure oil to light the menorah, the everlasting light in the Temple. Miraculously, that oil burnt for eight days, long enough for new oil to be prepared. (Looking for a good picture book version of the story? Try David Adler’s new book The Story of Hanukkah.)

Most Hanukkah traditions are connected in some way to the story of the miracle of the oil. In the United States we eat latkes, or potato pancakes fried in oil; in Israel, families make sufagniyot, or jelly doughnuts, also fried in oil. The menorah, or chanukiyyah, is lit each night for eight consecutive nights with candles or, more traditionally, olive oil. And the presents? Well, they don’t really have much to do with the story of Hanukkah. In fact, exchanging presents is a relatively recent phenomenon, most likely popularized because of the holiday’s proximity to another, slightly more well known, solstice-time celebration. One that typically features lots of presents.

Our family’s observance of Hanukkah is fairly modest. Don’t get me wrong – we’re really into holidays, but we make a much bigger fuss over Sukkot and Passover, which are traditionally more significant holidays.  We celebrate by displaying all our menorahs, from the fancy one we received as a wedding gift to the ones made by our children in preschool and kindergarten, and lighting at least two each night (the girls choose which ones). We make these potato latkes (usually only once – way too messy and well, too oily) and play dreidel with M&M’s. We also borrow and bend some traditions from our non-Jewish neighbors, decorating our house with blue lights and homemade decorations and decorating star-shaped cookies (Jewish stars, that is). The kids receive one present each night, with a few annual traditions – one night of  puzzles and/or games that we can do as a family, and one night of art supplies to share. The other nights’ gifts are small items like books and socks.

Some Jewish families feel a little threatened by the enormous appeal of Christmas, and find the need to sell Hanukkah to their children as being as-good-as-or-even-better-than Christmas. I understand the sentiment, but I’m not in favor of  the “we get eight days and they only get one!” refrain.  From my perspective, Hanukkah can’t possibly compete with Christmas, for the simple reason that Christmas is a major Christian holiday (what could be bigger than the birth of Jesus?) and Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday. Rather than trying to turn our holiday into something that it isn’t, we take time to enjoy the beauty of our friends, community’s and extended family’s Christmas festivities. We ooh and ahh over the holiday lights, watch the Christmas specials, and attend the Nutcracker. And with a non-Jewish set of grandparents, the girls even get a chance to do something I always wanted to do as a child – help decorate a Christmas tree. Of course, we also invite others to join in our Hanukkah celebrations. After all, what could be better for all of us than more opportunities to add light to our dark winter days? (The answer: more opportunities to add light AND a chance to learn about other cultures.)

There are a lot of wonderful pre-Hanukkah and Hanukkah events this month, including puppet shows, menorah lightings and festive meals. I’m especially looking forward to the conversation about Christmas and Hanukkah with award winning author Anita Diamant (see the December 4 listing below.) This month I’d also like to personally invite you to a party to celebrate the release of my new-(ish) picture book, The Shabbat Princess. Scroll down to December 10th for more details.

UPCOMING HANUKKAH EVENTS IN WESTERN MA (Dec 2nd-23rd, 2011):  Read the rest of this entry »

5 New Holiday Music CDs & Songs for Families

Holiday Music For Kids

Do you hear what I hear? It’s holiday music and Christmas cheer! Despite all the stress, I still absolutely love the holidays, and one of my favorite things about the season is all the happy music. Here are some new CDs and songs that we’re enjoying this year….

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Ben Rudnick & Friends are about to play their 9th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Concert at the Regent Theatre (Boston, MA) on December 11th. It’s always a wonderful show full of Christmas and Chanukah songs all wrapped up in that unique BR&F style.

And every year people ask if they have a holiday album… and every year they have to say no, but maybe next year… Until now!

They finally did it! And it was well worth the wait! Their new album, It’s Santa Claus, features eight classic Christmas songs, from Frosty the Snowman to Jingle Bells, and one super cool original song, It’s Santa Claus!

Of course, now they need to put together a CD of all their fun Chanukah songs. OK guys, that’s your assignment for next year!

Daria

Daria’s Songs for Merry Multicultural Mirth is a sweet collection of songs from around the world. We’ve always loved the song Ocho Candelikas, a traditional song sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. What I love about Daria’s version is that she’s added an English verse, too, so we can sing along. Spanish speakers will enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Spanish and Ladino.

Daria does such a great job of bringing different cultures together! This CD also feature songs in Spanish (Feliz Navidad), German (Ihr Kinderlein Kommet), and English (Rockin’ Jingle Bells). Check out the liner notes to the album where you can read more about each song and download the lyrics.

Phil Cooke

Speaking of Christmas celebrations around the world, Phil Cooke from Australia has just released a new album, Christmas Time is Coming! Is that Santa surfing on Christmas day? Of course! In Australia it’s summer time during the holidays, so why not?

One of my favorite songs on this album is No Worries Mate (Santa Claus He’s a Surfie). It’s fun and playful—like all of Phil’s songs. Did you know Rudolph once forgot to put sun screen on his nose? How do you think he got that burn?

Renee & Jeremy

I am of the opinion that Renee & Jeremy can do no wrong. Everything they do is brilliant! So of course their new cover of Little Drummer Boy is instantly my favorite version of this song ever. Period.

Combine this song with the beautiful art work by Hsinping Pan that always graces their albums and you’ve got perfection. I love the colors and joy displayed on this CD.

And speaking of art work, have you seen the video for Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World? It’s shockingly beautiful.

DidiPop

Another fun Christmas single comes from DidiPop this year. Let’s Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight is simply adorable. Didi sings along with her kids who are soooo excited about Santa stopping by during the night.

The song is upbeat and playful and reminds us adults about how much fun Christmas Eve is and how hard it is to wait for morning.

And is that an ukulele I hear in the song? That reminds me of Didi’s newest album, DidiPop Goes to Hawai’i, set for release on December 14th. You don’t want to miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Suggested Event 12/20/08-12/26/08

Happy Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and all other seasonal celebrations!

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Ice Storm 2008 - Chesterfield, MA. (click here to view more photos)

Ice Storm 2008 - Chesterfield, MA. (click here to view more photos)

If you have a family-friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page.

Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Get Directions | Free Museum Passes | School Closings and Delays | Family Centers (Ages 0-4) | Facebook

Events Happening in the Hilltowns

FEATURED EVENT:

On the Ashfield Town Common will gather community members for an annual Winter Solstice Celebration, featuring bonfire, story telling, singing and Morris Dancers.  This community event is free.  Warm up at Elmer’s after with something hot to drink.

SATURDAY – 12/20

Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Party Episode on HFVS (12/04/07)

Play! HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
Holiday Party Episode

with Sienna & Persephone

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm

12/04/07 PLAYLIST

subscribe to podcast | archived shows | contests

NEW HOLIDAY MUSIC

Lots of new holiday music this week by artists we love, including Steve Weeks, Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang, and Mr. David.

Check out Mr. David’s website where all the proceeds from his single (which includes Christmas Memories and a very cool rendition of Frosty the Snowman) will go to UNICEF. Click here to find out more.

And congratulations to Steve Week’s whose song “Up!” off of the Rabbit Run album won FIRST PLACE in the in the Children’s Music category of the US Songwriting Competition!

CONGRATULATIONS TO

on winning a Hipwader’s CD & T-shirt from last week’s contest.

THIS WEEK’S CONTEST

click to see larger image

For this week’s contest we’re offering music and the t-shirt from the compilation album, Play!, submitted to the HFVS T-Shirt Review.

A cat blares on the trumpet with a few animal friend atop the word Play! I can just hear the idea being pitched. And it turned out to be a winner. The reviewers loved this design. They liked the animals jamming and the vibrant colors. “I like the gorilla,” said Sunny (age 7) of Cummington, MA. “I like the ‘jazz’ cat playing a horn,” remarked Zane (age 5) of Plainfield, MA. “It’s very playful and I like how the logo is placed,” said Rae (mom) of Williamsburg, MA.

HOW TO WIN: For your chance to win, simply post us a comment below. We’ll randomly draw a winner from everyone who leaves a comment. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! Deadline is 12/11/07 @ 7pm (EST).

HAPPY CHANUKAH FROM THE HFVS!

Web Review: The Online Menorah

The Online Menorah

CCL (c) HeatherIntroduction to the meaning of Hanukkah and the Hanukkah menorah. Features background about why Hanukkah is celebrated, the basic rules associated with the use of the menorah (what one may use to light the candles, and how one lights the candles), and audio, with English translations, of three blessings that are recited when the candles are lit. Also includes links to more detailed material about Hanukkah. From a Jewish outreach and education group. [(c) LII.org] www.torah.org/chanukah.html

Chanukkah E-Card

The National Yiddish Book Center has cooked up some e-cards, featuring images from Yiddish books in their impressive collection. Send a free e-card to your friends and family for with your own personal message for the holiday. They are offering three different designs:

  • Chanukka Menorah
  • Cooking Latkes
  • Dreydl

The National Yiddish Book Center is located in Amherst, MA. www.yiddishbookcenter.org/e-chanukka

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