Chanukah Mart brings families to Temple Sinai

Will, left, and Abby Gordon at the Menorah table. Photos by Samantha Cooper

There wasn’t much food left at the end of Temple Sinai’s Chanukah Mart on Sunday. Throughout the afternoon, huge trays of home-made brisket, sufganiyot, kugel and spanakopita were brought from the kitchen to feed those in the lunch line.

“We base our attendance off of how much food is left over,” said Carole Brandt, the event’s chairperson. She guessed that 500 people came through to the Washington congregation.

Certainly, the synagogue was full of people, mainly families, looking for gifts and goodies from the 40 vendors.

Chris Swanberg, owner of Burns Woodburning Pyrography, sat at one table. Pyrography uses heat to burn images onto wood or other materials. One day, Swanberg saw some videos of pyrography online and thought, “I could do that.”

He mainly creates art of DC Comics and Star Wars characters. He also recreates images from famous battles and does burnings of pithy sayings.

One of his pieces was bought by 10-year-old Sasha Lifer. It read: “If you can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away —K-9 Wisdom.”

“I thought it was funny,” Sasha said. He also loves dogs and has a golden retriever named Rudolf.

Plenty of the event’s younger customers were picking out gifts for their family and friends. Three-year-old Emi Santos had chosen tiger and hippo finger puppets for her older sisters, and a panda finger puppet and jelly-ring for herself. Six year-old Mia Brawner had selected a wooden picture frame with the word “Woof” carved into it for her friend’s birthday party that afternoon, and was hoping to find some art supplies to go with it.

Not all the kids were there to shop. Rose and Paul Sussman were selling homemade bracelets. The siblings were donating the proceeds to Sinai House, a program run by the congregation that offers transitional housing for homeless families.

“We gathered [at Temple Sinai] at 9 o’clock when the mart starts and we sell until it ends,” said Rose, 11.

According to Brandt, last year’s Chanukah Mart took in $10,000. Vendors give a percentage of their profits to Temple Sinai, and the money made from the food goes to synagogue programs and events.

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