With some 10,000 Jews living locally, the Lowcountry is experiencing a Jewish renaissance that’s rooted in a 300-year history. “This is an exciting time to be a Jew in Charleston,” says Mark Swick, community liaison for the College of Charleston’s Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program and an organizer of Chanukah in the Square.
On December 29, the 12th annual celebration will draw thousands for games of dreidel, live music, carnival eats, and traditional fare. “This event has an invaluable impact on Charleston’s Jewish community in that every communal organization has a stake in its success, whether they are responsible for serving food, painting faces, or adding to the festive atmosphere,” says Rabbi Yossi Refson, director of Chabad of Charleston and the Lowcountry. “The event gives off an authentic and unique sense of Jewish unity.”
Once the sun sets, Holocaust survivors and local dignitaries help light the nine-foot menorah. Joining in the tradition this year will be the famed Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who in 1939 boarded the Kindertransport in Germany to gain refuge in Switzerland.
“Chanukah in the Square has become the largest annual gathering of Jews in South Carolina,” says Dr. Martin Perlmutter, director of the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program. “We attribute this growth to the strength of the local Jewish community as well as to the eagerness of the broader community to learn about Judaism and join in our celebration.”
Attend: Chanukah in the Square is Thursday, December 29, 4 to 6 p.m. in Marion Square, 329 Meeting St. Visit facebook.com/cofcjwst.