Congregation Beth Shalom’s fourth annual Chanu-Con Hanukkah festival will take place Nov. 24. The event is free and open to the public.

Congregation Beth Shalom’s fourth annual Chanu-Con Hanukkah festival will take place Nov. 24. The event is free and open to the public.

Photo provided by Beth Rodgers


Beth Shalom synagogue to host 4th annual ‘Chanu-Con’

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published November 18, 2019

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OAK PARK — Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park will be holding its fourth annual Chanu-Con Hanukkah festival this weekend.

The festival will take place from 1-5 p.m. Nov. 24, at the congregation, located at 14601 Lincoln St., and it is free and open to the public.

While the event has a Hanukkah theme to the proceedings, coordinator Beth Rodgers said that the day is for everybody who wants to attend, even if they don’t celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights.

“It is about Hanukkah — and we have Hanukkah activities — but in general, it’s just a day for people to get together and do things related to the holidays, but also be a part of the community and get ready for the holidays,” she said.

Chanu-Con will feature around 20 merchandise vendors, food vendors, a 50/50 raffle and live entertainment. There also will be activities for children with areas to craft candle hat menorahs, balloon animals and origami.

Of the 20 vendors in attendance, one of them will be Sandie Fershtman. She makes collage coasters, clipboards, wallets, luggage tags and more with specific themes, such as pop culture, entertainment, schools, sports and theater.

Fershtman said that she often goes to festivals such as Chanu-Con, which she participated in once before, and that attending these events always is a big help for her business.

“I live here, so I love seeing people I grew up with,” she said. “A lot of it for me is the interactions with the customers and the people.”

Rodgers, who also is a Beth Shalom board member, started the event four years ago based on how her then-3-year-old said Hanukkah, which came out as “Chanu-Con” and sounded like “Comic-Con.” On a whim, her husband proposed the idea of actually starting the festival.

“We started trying to get a variety of different people to be involved, and the first year, we had about 400 people come out,” she said. “In the last couple of years, we’ve had closer to 600. We’re trying to expand it each year.”

For anyone thinking about stopping by the festival, Rodgers hopes nobody is dissuaded from coming by thinking that they have to be Jewish to attend, as the event is for everyone.

“It’s a fun day. You don’t have to be Jewish to come. Everybody and anybody is welcome,” she said. “It’s like an open house. You can come and go as you please. You don’t have to be present to win the raffle, and there’s lots of different things and exciting activities, people to talk to.”

For more information about Chanu-Con, people can visit the event’s Facebook page at bit.do/chanucon2019 or call Congregation Beth Shalom at (248) 547-7970.

Hanukkah will begin at sundown Dec. 22.

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