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Yiddish Singing Group Celebrates Chanukah at the Buzz

Mameloshn, latkes and the warmth of the Festival of Lights.

Gut yontif and pass the latkes!

For the past 15 years, the Yiddish singing group, Mameloshn, has brought some of the traditions of Chanukah and plenty of the warmth of the Festival of Lights to the Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard Ave.. 

Started 18 years ago at Oak Park Temple, the group performs during Shabbat services and stages programs for the synagogue. Mameloshn also frequents other events throughout the state including the Greater Chicago Jewish Folks Art Festival

But the yearly performance at the Buzz is one they really look forward to, according to Michael Bass, a member of the group.

"It's become a very nice tradition," Bass said. "It's an opportunity to gather as a community and to have a lot of fun."

The group will be putting on its annual Chanukah performance at the Buzz this year on Dec. 13—the sixth day of Chanukah—from 6-8:45 p.m. with songs and food.

Most of the songs performed at the event are in Yiddish, such as Oy Chanukah Oy Chanukah, the Yiddish version of the popular festival song, Bass said, but some will be traditional Chanukah songs sung in Hebrew as well.

"When we formed we had a number of members who were native speakers [of Yiddish]," Bass said. "We've had people also who parents spoke it in their homes and so they know a little of it too."

Part of the celebration, in this way, is also about keeping the tradition and language alive in Oak Park. When the group performs at the Buzz, they also provide historical background for the songs, as well as song sheets for attendees.

"When we look a song, we also translate it and learn the history around it to be able to give it context," Bass said.

For the event, the Buzz Cafe offers up a special menu of latkes—potato pancakes fried in oil and dressed with sour cream and apple sauce—which is a traditional Chanukah dish.

This year, the program will be broken into two parts—one for the kids and another for teens and adults. The first seating for families with children will take place from 6-7:15 p.m. followed by a set for adults from 7:30-8:45 p.m.

Also this year, will be two storytellers performing Zlateh the Goat by the Nobel Prize-winning author Issac Bashevis Singer. The story is modern, but told like a folktale and takes place at Chanukah. Telling the story will be Temple members and Oak Park Festival Theatre actors Jerry Bloom and Belinda Bremner.

Again this year, and in the tradition of thinking about others during the Chanukah, the group will be collecting donations for the Oak Park and River Forest Food Pantry. Last year, the performance raised $240 for charity.

With the donation also come a gift of sorts—latkes provided by Manny's Deli in Chicago to take home.

To catch the performance, reserve your seat and order latkes through the Oak Park Temple website by clicking here.

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