The Hub goes unorthodox for Chanukah celebrations

When the Hub at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco plans a Chanukah celebration, be prepared for a little experimentation and a lot of variety.

This year’s party, Super 8 Chanukah Festival: Eight Ways to Burn Bright, will celebrate the holiday all week with a lively lineup of food, film, music, comedy, Chanukah survival kits and more at venues throughout San Francisco.

“Expect new, innovative responses to what Chanukah is,” said Dan Wolf, program director of the Hub. “We’re all about looking at Jewish traditions through a contemporary lens, and now we’ve expanded that to our holiday programming.” 

Good for the Jews duo Rob Tannenbaum (left) and David Fagin.

The Hub at the JCCSF presents and produces arts, culture and community events aimed at inspiring a new generation to revolutionize Jewish identity and celebrate a renaissance of Jewish life.

The band Good for the Jews, dubbed a “Jewish ‘Flight of the Conchords,’” will kick off the Super 8 Chanukah Festival Wednesday, Dec. 1 at Café Du Nord in San Francisco.

Rob Tannenbaum and David Fagin of New York City make up the band, which mixes music and comedy in an irreverent and unorthodox way.

The kitschy duo sings about Passover, Jewish girls and their Florida relatives, among other topics. Wolf credited Good for the Jews’ music as creative inspiration for the festival.

“[The music] speaks to my personal point of view of Jewish culture and not taking us so seriously,” Wolf said. “I really wanted to give [Good for the Jews] an opportunity to be presented within the Jewish communal context.”

On the second night of Chanukah, the Hub will team up with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and Shmaltz Brewing Company to present the 8x8x8 Film Festival at San Francisco’s New People, a new hot spot for fans of Japanese fashion, media and culture.

The SFJFF will curate eight short films from around the world to be enjoyed with Shmaltz brews and snacks — and of course doughnuts are on the menu. 

The crop of films shares a common theme — the miracle and mystery of survival and triumphing over adversity — and spans several genres, including documentaries,  narrative and animated shorts.

Among them are “Bus,” a 2009 documentary from Israel that examines life in transit amid the complex rules, walls, soldiers and permits that comprise the Israel/Palestine bus system; “Gefilte Fish,” a 10-minute piece about one woman’s struggle to make the holiday staple using a fish swimming in her bathtub; and “Remembrance,” which captured the Gold Medal for best documentary at the Student Academy Awards.    

“We want the best films possible,” said Joshua Moore, SFJFF associate programmer. “It’s nice to have variety and these films naturally came together.”

The fifth night of Chanukah (Dec. 5) will unite the S.F.-based Progressive Jewish Alliance, San Francisco’s diversity initiative, Be’Chol Lashon, and Pursue, a group of Jewish change-makers in their 20s and 30s, for Guilt Free Gelt: A Fair Trade Festival of Rights. It takes place at the Women’s Building in San Francisco.

Participants will enjoy an ethical, green and just holiday gift bazaar, a sweatshop-free fashion show, Chanukah candlelighting honoring local activists, sustainable snacks and DJs.

To culminate the Festival of Lights, Jdub Records and Jewcy.com will host Milk and Honey at Bollyhood Café in the Mission District. The free event will feature live DJ mash-ups and an open bar for the first hour.  

In addition, the Hub will partner with Dynamo Donuts in the Mission District to create a Meyer lemon–filled doughnut, and nearby Humphrey Slocombe for sour cream and applesauce ice cream and sufganiyot sundaes.

“We’re hoping to get young people where they already go rather than bring them into the institutional world,” Wolf said. “It’s really about putting food, music and film at the center of a new way of exploring Chanukah.”

For more information about the Super 8 Chanukah Festival or for tickets to all events, call (415) 292-1233 or visit www.jccsf.org/thehub.