Commuters gnashing their teeth in traffic on the 405, the 5, the 101, the 134 or anywhere from Sacramento to San Diego will have reason to lighten up this Chanukah, because Chabad of California’s going on a road trip.
Set to cover 600 miles in eight days, Chabad’s mitzvah mobile will be stocked with menorah kits, dreidels, chocolate gelt candies… and a digital camcorder and laptop. Distributing Chanukah items and accessories is a well-known Chabad tradition. Giving Jewish people a chance to have their reactions to and questions about the holiday action recorded and uploaded and blogged about—that’s Chabad pushing the proverbial envelope, again.
“We are always expanding and looking for new ways to reach out and to spread the message of Chanukah using modern technology,” said Rabbi Chaim Nochum Cunin, of Chabad’s West Coast Headquarters. “Today’s kids are getting their inspiration online, and this way they will be able to learn about Chanukah in a forum that speaks to them.”
Powering the road trip is one of Chabad of California’s new Mitzvah Mobiles. Currently ten are on the road, adopted by local Chabad centers for use whenever outreach needs extend beyond the walls of the center. During last month’s wildfires, Chabad parked one of the mitzvah mobiles at the Qualcom Stadium to offer hungry evacuees kosher food.
“The fires California just went through lit up that state in a tragic way,” said Rabbi Mendy Pellin, who will be driving the length and breadth of California with his wife, Shulamis Pellin. “We intend to be the counterbalance and light the place up with the positive, uplifting message of Chanukah.”
The Pellins will also be scouting for content to place online. On the net, a whole other dimension of the Chabad of California’s Chanukah programming awaits user input. MyLightContest.org, a joint project of Chabad of California, AskMoses.com, Chabad.org and Yideoz.com, invites girls and boys up to age fourteen to submit videos of lighting the menorah and describing what Chanukah means to them, in thirty seconds or less.
Winning submissions will be broadcast on national television on December 6, at 4:00 p.m.on the ION network. Menorah lighting with California Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, the 59th Army Band, and a choir from Israel will give a Chanukah party flair to the one hour broadcast viewable in 94 million households nationwide.
Television of a different sort will be another outgrowth of the Chanukah drive. On the spot interviews will be conducted to get a feel for what the average Mr. and Mrs. Stein are thinking about for Chabad of California’s new AskMoses.com TV division. AskMoses.com is a live forum where questions about Judaism are answered 24-6.
Shulamis Pellin, a veteran traveler, is looking forward to hitting the highway. “During my travels I've always come to appreciate my home away from home anywhere I went: Chabad. Now, we will bring that Chabad "home" to the road.”