ANDOVER — When Hanukkah starts at sundown tonight, Jews will use oil to light the first candle on the menorah to commemorate the Macabes’ triumph over the Greco-Syrians who desecrated their temple in Jerusalem.
During the eight-day festival, they also use oil to fry latkes or potatoes pancakes and doughnuts which are staples to the celebration.
Cindy Rivka Marshall takes it one step further.
“The oil reminds us that all we have to do is have hope and faith in time of darkness and the light from the oil is a sign of hope, a metaphor,” Marshall said.
A storyteller for more than 20 years, Marshall performs “Miracle of Light” tomorrow during the Hanukkah family festival at Congregation Beth Israel, 501 S. Main St. Donation is $5 per person or a maximum of $20 per family.
“I see storytelling at the center of Jewish tradition as a wonderful way to teach people about holidays and Jewish values,” Marshall said. “There’s a lot of messages in the metaphors that people can be enriched by.”
As the Jews were about to light the temple’s menorah, or seven branched candelabrum, they only found enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days. The highlight of Hanukkah includes lighting the menorah, a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, until all eight lights are kindled.
Other Hanukkah customs include playing with the dreidel, a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there” and giving children money or Hanukkah gelt.
Marshall said the stories she tells come from folk tales she has found in books and adapts them as her own using poetic license.
”My work is in the oral tradition. Story tellers don’t memorize like actors do so every time you tell a story, it comes out different,” Marshall said.
Along with the stories, she writes songs related to the stories and teaches them to the audience during the performance.
”It’s an interactive life form of listening. A way to get the audience to participate in the show,” she said.
Marshall originally from New Jersey, comes from a theatrical family as her mother was an actress and director. Growing up, Marshall herself was involved in theater and dancing.
She was educated at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt.
As an adult she worked as a video producer and editor focusing on documentaries and oral histories.
“My love of performing and folklore is a way to interact with the listener. Its just seem to be the right form,” she said. “My goal is to share stories with others in a way that helps build communities,” Marshall said.
In addition to Jewish holy days, she tells stories from around the world and has used personal experiences to weave tales. They include, “Making Borscht,” based on family oral history about her grandparents’ living in Poland and their immigration to the United States as she remembered from her childhood. The other, “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree” talks about Marshall’s relationship with her American-born Jewish grandmother and how despite living different lives, their relationship was very strong.
“Despite all the technology available, people are hungry for authentic human interaction and stories are a way to communicate what’s in our hearts,” Marshall said. “
Throughout her career, she led workshops at the high school summer program at Brandeis University teaching for staff and participants in using story sharing and storytelling.
She has also been a consultant for Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
She has also recorded several CDs including, “By the River: Women’s Voices in Jewish Stories” which won a 2007 Parents’ Choice Recommended Award and “Challah and Latkes: Stories for Shabbat and Hanukkah” received a Storytelling World Honor Award and a National Parenting Publications Award.
Temple Emanuel celebrates Hanukkah ‘New Orleans style’
ANDOVER — Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, is hosting its annual Hanukkah Night of Music – New Orleans Style” Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.
All temple vocal groups - Pre-School Singers and Adult Choir, Junior Choir & Religious School Chorus and the Temple Emanuel Band “The Abbas” will perform under the direction of Cantor Idan Irelander and Cantorial Soloist Jodi Blankstein.
Musical guests are The Jazzlanders featuring Jazz and Swing. The finale will be a menorah lighting, and light sticks for all while singing America the Beautiful. Participants are asked to bring canned and dry foods for Bread & Roses.
Tim Janis performs Christmas concert at Presentation of Mary
METHUEN — Renown PBS composer Tim Janis performs his newest holiday “The Christmas Rose” featuring Amy Petty, Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Dupre Center at Presentation of Mary Academy, 209 Lawrence St.
During his musical career, Janis has produced 10 Billboard charting CDs and sold more than one million albums. He has worked with Sir Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Ray Charles and George Clooney.
Janis gained new fame last year after his performance of the “American Christmas Carol” which will be broadcast this holiday season as part of the National Public Television specials.
General admission is $15 or $30 for concert and after party. To reserve tickets, log on to www.pmamethuen.org.
One-woman show brings Mary’s story to life
ANDOVER — Actress Olivia Woodford performs a one-woman play which brings to life the birth of Jesus, Dec. 15 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Augustine Church.
”Faith: A Mother’s Story,” brings together the women close to Mary including her mother, Anne and her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist as they learn that Mary who is betrothed to Joseph is having a baby.
In the play, Woodford brings to life Mary, Anne and Elizabeth as they go about their daily life in prayer and doing housework while discussing their doubts, disbelief and renewed faith.
Breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m. followed by the show.
Woodford, an actress and director is founder of Healing Theatre. She has a bachelor of fine arts in theater from Boston University and has performed in regional and off Broadway productions.
AMC Loews Theater at The Loop, 90 Pleasant Valley St., Methuen: “Restless Heart” the movie on the life of St. Augustine will be shown Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets available via PayPal for $11 by logging on to www.catholicquest.org.
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: A time for meditations, silence and quiet is held Dec. 15 from 9 a.m. to noon in the North Chapel, ending with prayer and lunch. Blue Christmas service with members of St. Paul Episcopal Church, North Andover, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m., featuring readings, meditations and Eucharist.
Church of the Transfiguration, 1 Hood Road, Derry: St. Petersbug Men’s Ensemble performs a concert Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. Free. Members of the church and Etz Hayim Synagogue lead an interfaith discussion on the book, “Have a Little Faith,” Dec. 19 at noon.
Corpus Christi parish at Holy Rosary, 35 Essex St., Lawrence: The Christmas wafers for the traditional Christmas celebration by Eastern Europeans are available in the parish office. Donations accepted. The Rev. Andrew Knop celebrate Mass in Polish tonight at 6:15 p.m. Confessions follow.
Faith Lutheran, 390 S. Main St., Andover: The church is presenting two Christmas pageants tomorrow and Dec. 16 both at 4 p.m. A potluck dinner and talent show follows. The Rev. John Heydenreich leads a “Walk through the Bible” study focusing on key stories and what do they mean, tomorrow, 5-6:30 p.m.
First Baptist Church, 122 Main Street, Plaistow: Following the 10 a.m. worship service on Dec. 16 a luncheon focusing on “Joy” will be held, as part of a series to talk about “the fruits of the spirit”. Event features food, stories, music and children’s games.
First Church Congregational, 26 Pleasant St., Methuen: Adult study group listens to Handel’s “Messiah,” and discuss the composer’s musical interpretation on the biblical texts that talk about the prophecy and birth of Jesus, Wednesday and Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
First United Methodist, 57 Peters St., North Andover: Advent study on the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” discusses how the Christmas classic reflects or challenges the Christian faith, Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
First Presbyterian, 346 Broadway, Haverhill: Book study is reading Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m.
Hampstead Congregational, 61 Main St., Hampstead: Interfaith Choir Christmas concert is perform tonight at 7 p.m.
Londonderry United Methodist, 258 Mammoth Road, Londonderry: Interfaith Choir Christmas concert is perform tomorrow at 4 p.m. Blue Christmas service takes place Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.
Lyons Park, 6 Village Green, Pelham: Local church choir members join their voices for a community Christmas sing-a-long tonight, 6-8 p.m. Free, but donations accepted for the Pelham Food Pantry.
North Parish Unitarian Universalist, 190 Academy Road, North Andover: The Book and Movie Group discusses the film, “The Way” with Martin Sheen, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Holiday Concert is Dec. 16, 7:00 p.m. Tickets on sale during coffee hour or by calling the church office at 978-687-7948. Helen Cymbala leads a service for Solstice and Yule Dec. 23, during the 9 and 11 a.m. services. The group Aering provides the music.
St. Andrew Episcopal, 90 Broadway, Methuen: Service of lessons and carols is held tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Christmas pageant is perform Dec. 23 at 9:30 a.m.
St. Anne, 26 Emerson Ave., Hampstead: Deacon Bill Mullen leads a program examining the infancy narratives of the gospel and how they relate to the traditional Christmas story, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. Participants are asked to bring a Bible.
St. Augustine, 43 Essex St., Andover: Students in the eighth grade religion education classes and the children’s choir perform carols Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. Cookies and hot chocolate follow.
St. Christopher Episcopal, 187 E. Road, Hampstead: Healing service is tomorrow at the 8 a.m. service.
St. James, Winter Street, Haverhill: Parish celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. featuring Mariachis. Traditional Mexican food follows.
St. Joseph of St. Mary and Joseph parish, 40 Main St., Salem: The movie, “The Nativity Story” will be shown Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
St. Luke the Evangelist, Newton: Sung Advent evening prayers are held Sundays during Advent at 6 p.m., followed by reconciliation. Service of Advent lessons and carols is Dec. 16 at 4 p.m.The parish has Christmas wafers, a tradition celebrates by Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian and Italian families on Christmas eve. The unleavened wafers are basked from wheat flour and water, are rectangular in shape and thin. They are embossed with Christmas scenes including the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus or the star of Bethlehem. Donations accepted.
St. Luke the Evangelist, 8 Atkinson Depot Road, Plaistow: The parish has Christmas wafers, a tradition celebrates by Polish, Slovak, Lithuanian and Italian families on Christmas eve. The unleavened wafers are basked from wheat flour and water, are rectangular in shape and thin. They are embossed with Christmas scenes including the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus or the star of Bethlehem.
St. Mary Immaculate Conception Mausoleum, 29 Baker St., Lawrence: The Rev. John DelloRusso celebrates Christmas service on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: Middle school students host the Mass Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. Advent penance service is held Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. followed by individual confessions.
St. Theresa Church, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, 22 Plymouth St. Methuen: Tom Gradzewicz, present the documentary he produced about the Strike of 1912, December 10 at noon as part of the Parish Luncheon Speaker Series. Free, but donations accepted to cover the cost of the meal.
St. Francis of Assisi, 9 St. Francis Way, Litchfield: Advent carols, a journey to Christmas in word and songs is performed tonight at 7 p.m.
St. John the Baptist, 120 Lincoln Ave., Haverhill: Members of the Marian Society devoted to Our Lady of Fatima pray the Rosary Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m.
St. Lucy, 254 Merrimack St., Methuen: The parish hosts an Advent mission Dec. 11 with holy hour and benediction; Dec. 12 with penance service and Dec. 13 Mass in honor of the feast of St. Lucy all at 6:30 p.m.
Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish, 40 Main St., Salem: The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, will be offered Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter.
St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: The church’s Celebration Choir performs a lessons and carols concert tomorrow at 2 p.m.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: Afternoon of reflection for seniors is Dec. 12 from noon to 2 p.m. in the parish hall.
St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: Service of blessing of children in the womb takes place tomorrow at the 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Mass. The Vatican approved the new rite this year. During the Masses tomorrow, expecting parents will come forward after the Creed to receive prayers from the community and the priest’s blessing. “Life and Faith” adult faith formation series focusing on the sacraments will be held Thursdays from 7-8:30, through April. Bible study for people in their 20s and 30s meets weekly to discuss the Passion and Resurrection narratives of Jesus, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
St. Patrick, 12 Main St., Plaistow: Members of the Junior Youth Ministry take the roles of Mary, Joseph, angel, shepherds and kings at the live nativity, which also includes live animals, The nativity story will be read every hour on the hour and the Folk Group lead in Christmas caroling. Dec. 15 from 3 to 6 p.m. Advent cluster penance service is held Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.
St. Peter Episcopal, 3 Peabody Row, Londonderry: Centering prayer group meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. for silent prayer and contemplation. The Circle reading group discusses “The Name of the Rose” by Umberto Eco, Dec. 12.
St. Thomas Aquinas, 26 Crystal Ave., Derry: Advent reconciliation will be available Dec. 11 from 7-8:30 p.m. Charismatic prayer group meets for praise, thanksgiving and love through the Holy Spirit, Mondays 7-8:30 p.m.
Trinity Episcopal, 26 White St., Haverhill: A service of lessons and carols is celebrated Dec. 23 at 10 a.m. At 6 p.m. also on Dec. 23, the church hosts a blue Christmas service.
Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover: “Blue Christmas” service is held Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. The Sunday School Children will tell the Christmas story through a skit titled, “Two Sisters,” Dec. 16 at 10 a.m.
Unitarian Universalist, 15 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill: The Rev. Frank Clarkson and Kimberly Cloutier Green lead “Tending the Sacred: Holy Longing, Holy Listening” using contemplative prayer and spiritual direction Dec. 11, 7-9 p.m.
West Parish, 129 Reservation Road, Andover: The Treble Chorus of New England performs tomorrow at 10 a.m. Blue Christmas service is held Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. Live outdoor Christmas pageant is Dec. 22 at 5 p.m. at the arch of the cemetery.