The audience was seated, the lights lowered, the curtains rose and…action! Hanukkah De-Lights 2013 Symbols of Hanukkah wowed parents and other family members, who clapped, hollered and danced in their seats with faces of pride and love. Little did they know of the long hours and hard work it took for the students and director, Zohar Ben Moshe (a.k.a. HAT music and Judaic studies teacher), to get to that stage.
Every year HAT students are transformed into actors, dancers and singers. This year’s show included songs performed by kindergarten through third graders, respectively—Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Candles), The Dreidel, Light and Heroes —in addition to a fourth and fifth grade musical called A Latke Story.
So how does a school production of this magnitude come together? It takes undeniable, tireless commitment and teamwork between the students and teachers that starts in October and ends in December with the final pièce de résistance. There is writing, editing and translating lyrics from Hebrew to English. The students learn the songs in music class, working every day in rehearsal for weeks prior to the show. They give their input on the design of the costumes along with the props, set decorations and even the playbill. It is an outstanding blend of Judaic studies and the performing arts.
In addition to teaching students the music, drama and dance moves, Ben Moshe adds video clips with sub-titles to go along with every song. “The translation helps the audience to better understand the themes and storylines of the songs. Adding pictures and video engages them with the production— when they are engaged, the kids get even more animated which is such a thrill to see.”
Still, it’s all about having fun, making memories with family and celebrating the spirit of Chanukah, complete with the lighting of the candles. “I want the kids to be happy, sing loud and not worry if they make a mistake,” says Ben Moshe. “Just have fun! These are special times that I hope they will remember for the rest of their lives. Remember how magical Chanukah was when you were a child?”
by Dee Dee Becker