Top Eight Hanukkah Traditions for Washingtonians

by Jason Langsner / December 24, 2019

As Adam Sandler famously said, “Put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah, so much funukkah, to celebrate Hanukkah.”  Well. Yes it is funukkah to celebrate Hanukkah [in DC] and here are my top eight recommendations for how you can have your own funukkah: 

1:  Up your Insta Game at One of DC’s Holiday Pop-up Bars / Try the #Shotnorah

Selfie, selfie, take a selfie at any of the holiday pop-ups tracked online in or attend PopVille favorite Ivy and Coney in Shaw as they transform in the month of December to the Chai-vy and Cohen-y Hanukkah Bar for the third straight year.  Go with seven other friends and take part in the #shotnorah, which is what you’d expect it to be from the description.  See it featured on The Today Show earlier this month.

2:  Attend the National Menorah Lighting at the White House (Sunday, Dec 22 @ 4 PM)


Thousands attend the National Menorah Lighting every year at The Eclipse in front of the White House.  Since 1974, a menorah has been lit on the mall. The National Menorah Council advertises theirs as the largest menorah in the world.  This year’s Menorah Lighting already passed, but make sure to add this to your must-do Hanukkah list for 2020!  

3:  Support HIAS at the 3rd Annual People’s Hanukkah Party at Casolare (Monday, Dec 23 @ 6:30 PM)

Several great organizations have come together to welcome the stranger, welcome the citizen, and welcome the light at the 3rd Annual People’s Hanukkah Party, which is a super foodie friendly event at Casolare Ristorante + Bar inside the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel.  

4:  Get your Falafel Frenzy on with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (Tuesday, Dec 24 @ 8:30 PM) 

falafel frenzy

Hanukkah Happy Hour: Havana Nights may be over as Dec 17, but it isn’t too late to enjoy some socializing with friends while supporting the charitable work of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington at the annual Falafel Frenzy at Mission Dupont.  I used to help organize this every year during my singles days and had a [falafel] ball every year!

 5:  Volunteer for D25 Before Getting your Chinese Food and Seeing a Movie (Wednesday, Dec 25)

Over 40 different projects are available on the December 25th Day of Service (D25), the Edlavitch DCJCC’s largest volunteer event of the year, to perform some good ol’ tikkun olam.  Repair the world by preparing/serving food for those in need, wrapping presents, donating blood, painting a school, and more! 

6:  End of Year Giving to Support Organizations Meaningful to You on Hanukkah

Donating time is one way to give back.  Making charitable gifts is another… About four years ago I started a new tradition to celebrate my end of year giving by recognizing eight different Jewish organizations that are meaningful to me and sharing on Facebook for each night of Hanukkah that I purchased an Israel bond and donated it to the charity that day.  I personally get a lot of meaning out of these double mitzvahs – as the bond purchase goes to the development of Israel and then when the bond matures, the interest and principal are paid out to the charities I selected on Hanukkah.

7:  Light the Menorah with Family Over FaceTime 


My wife’s family has this great tradition where her sisters and their spouses all FaceTime each other, plus their parents, to light candles and sing Hanukkah songs.  They’re located in Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit – so this is a way for all of us to be together (virtually) on each night of Hanukkah.

8:  Embassy Hop to Attend a Multicultural Hanukkah Party

It’s a bit cliche, but hey – we’re DC – and many embassies will be hosting Hanukkah parties.  Work your network and get the invite(s) as it’s special to celebrate Hanukkah on foreign soil at embassies across the city.  One of my favorite DC memories was attending the Embassy of India Hanukkah party a few years ago. The Embassy of Israel one has always been a lot of fun.  I still have Morocco and a few others on my DC bucket list.

jasonAbout the Author: Jason Langsner has been an active lay leader of the Washington Jewish community since moving to the city in 2004, and volunteers for several Jewish organizations including B’nai Brith International. He is a small business owner and formerly served as the head of digital strategy for the oldest Jewish human rights and humanitarian organization in the world. When not blogging, he can often be found walking around his Eastern Market neighborhood, or riding around DC area bike trails.






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