So what's a Jew to do on the most observed of the Christian holidays, when every business but the Chinese restaurants uses the excuse to close down? Growing up in Arizona, Aaron Bisman and Jacob Harris of JDub Records, don't remember any exciting options, much less anything geared towards young Jews. Says Bisman, "My parents lived in Nebraska for a time and, like a lot of Jews, they would go to a movie and have Chinese food. There were things happening, but not for Hanukkah, which often intersects on the calendar with Christmas. We had to make up things to do."
These days, bigger cities throw "Matzah Balls," events with an emphasis on partying and little meaningful connection among attendees. Seeing an opportunity for holiday events with a unique Jewish identity but sans religious overtones, JDub Records and Brooklyn Jews founded Jewltide, an alternative party featuring up-and-coming talent, music, and a new way to celebrate Hanukkah. Now in its fourth year, JDub has expanded Jewltide from its home base in Brooklyn and is taking the party on the road to Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago with label-mates Golem and SoCalled. Brooklyn will be treated to 2 special nights, with The LeeVees, Tim Fite, and Balkan Beat Box DJs joining the party.
JDub has also teamed up with the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Reboot for Vodka Latka in Los Angeles and San Francisco, a Jewltide-esque party celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. These events will kick off the night with the Festival Of Rights menorah lighting, in which local social justice activists, including Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, will briefly speak about the rights they fight for every day. In LA, JDub artist Golem and Bisman alter-ego DJ Anaan will be joined by Heaping Hanukkah, a performance ensemble featuring celebrity guests including Jill Soloway, executive producer of the HBO series Six Feet Under. In San Francisco, Conspiracy of Beards, an all-male choir with an all-Leonard Cohen repertoire, will join Golem and DJ Anaan.
Latkas, jelly donuts, dreydls, and chocolate gelt will be in great supply each night. The deep fried hors d'oeuvres have an essential oily connection, a nod towards the Hanukkah story in which after the fight for freedom from Greek oppression, oil for the menorah in the Temple in Jerusalem expected to last one night actually lasted for eight. Wontons, and eggrolls will be thrown in for the Christmas Eve Jewltide in Brooklyn for good measure.
Ditch the Chinese food and movie theaters this year. If you don't have a tree, you don't have an excuse!
Vodka Latka: Festival of Rights
Wed 12/13 LA @ The El Rey
Thur 12/14 SF @ The Independent
Jewltide: A Hanukkah Bash
Wed 12/20 Chicago @ The Empty Bottle
Thur 12/21 Boston @ TT The Bear's
Sat 12/23 DC @ Sixth and I
Sat 12/23 Brooklyn @ Southpaw
Sun 12/24 Brooklyn @ Southpaw