Although this isnt the first year that Jewish families will celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, in Whistler, for the first time a pair of rabbis will be offering a full range of religious and traditional services throughout the eight-day holiday.
In co-operation with the local Jewish community and Rabbi Yitzchak Wineberg from Vancouver-based Lubavitch B.C., Rabbis Schneur Wineberg (Yitzchaks son) and Yaacov Behrman have agreed to spend Chanukah in Whistler.
Both are currently studying in New York City, where they work with the international Chabad organization bringing aid to foreign countries. They also provide support to Jewish communities in areas around the world that dont have established communities, synagogues or community centres. In recent years Yaacov has been to places like Nigeria and Russia, and Schneur has spent time in Italy and France.
But when they were invited to bring Chanukah to Whistler, they were on almost the next plane from New York to Vancouver.
"One moment were sitting and talking and we get a call saying they need two guys to go to Whistler, the next day we go on a plane, rented a car and were here," said Wineberg.
This year Chanukah runs from Dec. 25 to Jan. 2, but Wineberg and Behrman have been offering their services from Dec. 18 and will remain in Whistler until Jan. 5.
Judging by their approach theyre already having a lot of fun with it.
Theyve called their mission "Mitzvah on the Mountain: Your Centre for Judaism on Whistler-Blackcomb". They have posters advertising their services and have set up "The Whistler Totally Jewish Hotline" at 778-889-7701. There is also a link to the event on the Lubavitch B.C. website at www.lubavitchbc.com .
During Chanukah they are planning to hold daily services in the morning at 7:30 a.m. and in the evening "pre-ski and post-ski" says Wineberg. They also plan to light a Menorah daily at 4:15 p.m. in Town Plaza by the gazebo; hold daily Torah study for levels; host a Daf Yomi Class; host Friday Night Services and Shabbaton, host a Shabbat dinner on Saturday; organize a program for teens and youths; have a community social dinner on Wednesday, and lead an interactive olive press program, as well as other traditional Chanukah programs. They also plan to bring a Torah scroll to Whistler for services, and are hoping to get 10 Jewish men together for a minyon prayer.
All of the events except for the Wednesday night dinner will be at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre in the Garibaldi Room. The dinner location will be posted on the hotline.