Image by Mike from Pixabay

BITS & BYTES: Community Chanukah celebration; Berkshire Museum Orrery demonstration; Best of the Fest childrens film showcase; watch BBG Rooted in Place lectures online; Shine A Light on antisemitism; discounted Berkshire Bach concert tickets; Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco

Chabad of the Berkshires is hosting a free Community Chanukah celebration for families and the public on Sunday, December 25 at 4 p.m.

Celebrate Chanukah in community

Pittsfield— A Family Chanukah celebration, including a public menorah kindling ceremony, will take place on Sunday, December 25 at 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn and Suites, 1 West Street, Pittsfield. Community leaders will attend the ceremony and assist in kindling the giant “Menorah of Freedom.” The free program, sponsored by Chabad of the Berkshires, Haddad Dealerships of the Berkshires, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is open to the public and will include a concert featuring Israeli sensation Yoel Sharabi, hot potato latkes, donuts, chocolate Chanukah gelt, a grand raffle, dreidels, and an awesome award-winning family entertainer that will amaze and mesmerize audiences of all ages with his magnificent Bubblemania show.

Chanukah, a celebration of freedom, is highlighted by the kindling of the menorah each night of the holiday. The Chanukah lights provide warmth, joy, strength and inspiration. Such is the purpose of the community-wide celebrations.

All are welcome at this free event. Please visit www.Jewishberkshires.com for more information about  Chanukah celebrations in the Berkshires.

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Image courtesy of the Berkshire Museum.

See the Berkshire Museum orrery demonstrated

Pittsfield— Attend an orrery demonstration at Berkshire Museum on December 27 at 3 p.m. This is included with museum admission. All are welcome.

An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system used to demonstrate their relative position and motion.

The orrery at the center of the Museum’s Rocks and Minerals gallery will be operated by a museum educator on Tuesdays and select Saturdays during Winter Fest. Learn all about the orbits of the planets and become mesmerized by this beautiful mechanical model created by artist Erik Van Cort and glass artist Josh Simpson.

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Image courtesy of the Norfolk Library.

Norfolk Library shows short films for kids

Norfolk— The Norfolk Library is holding a Best of the Fest showcase on Tuesday, December 27 at 4 p.m. These short films tell big stories about creatures both great and small and will take you on a trip around the world with stop-motion, hand-drawn, and other amazing animation techniques. This program features films from the Netherlands, Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan, Czech Republic, and Greece. 56 minutes. All ages! Visit here to register.

The Best of the Fest is a traveling program from the Children’s Film Festival Seattle that includes award-winning and audience favorite films from the most recent festival. This program is intended to let youth audiences gain global awareness through the magic of film.

On Thursday, December 29 at 4 p.m. see the world through the eyes of the kids in live-action shorts. The young people in these films go on their own adventures, discover how to be true to themselves, and learn to face their fears. This program features films from New Zealand, India, Canada, United States, Mexico, and Ireland. Ages 8+. 93 minutes. Visit here to register.

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Rooted In Place speakers. Image courtesy of the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

Watch lectures from Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Rooted in Place symposium

Stockbridge— This past year the Berkshire Botanical Garden hosted the 8th Annual Rooted in Place Ecological Gardening Symposium. If you missed the event, recordings of the entire program or individual lectures are available till January 1. Register for $20-$55 online here.

Lectures include:

  • Wambui Ippolito’s “Growing In Weeds” — Investigate the questions: How can landscape designers, gardeners, parents, and communities approach design and create new spaces that bring a new vitality into children’s green spaces? How do these spaces help children to be emboldened explorers and better stewards of landscapes they inhabit?
  • Page Dickey’s “Bringing Meadows into the Garden” — With global warming and energy conservation in mind, let’s cut down on mowing and blowing and replace some lawns with higher grass. Page Dickey will discuss a wide range of examples showing how beautifully meadows — however small — and meadow plants can be incorporated into gardens.
  • Elijah Goodwin’s “Agriculture as Conservation: Lessons for the Landscape” — Our increasingly complex and dire environmental challenges can’t be met by wildland preservation alone. It has become abundantly clear that we must also radically change our approach to intensively human-managed landscapes.
  • Annie White’s “Ecosystem Approaches to Landscape Design: Building Resiliency Through Community” — Annie White is striving to create a new culture of gardening where we move away from carefully curated gardens, work more with rather than against nature, and become better stewards of the ecosystems within and around our gardens. Annie will share her ecosystem approach to landscape design that helps build resiliency through community.

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Image courtesy of Shine A Light and Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.

Jewish Federation of the Berkshires shines a light on antisemitism

Pittsfield— Amid a widespread rise in antisemitism in North America and around the world, Jewish Federation of the Berkshires has joined Shine A Light, a comprehensive national initiative to illuminate the dangers of antisemitism through education, engagement, and advocacy.

Shine A Light uses the powerful story of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, to champion the message that light can dispel darkness. Through a coalition of more than 100 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, Shine a Light seeks to catalyze conversations and raise awareness across communities, on school campuses, and in the workplace, so that people will better understand what constitutes antisemitism and take steps to respond.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of antisemitic incidents released in March of 2022, antisemitic incidents in New England spiked 42% in 2021, with Massachusetts ranking as the worst offender. A 2021 survey of the American Jewish Committee found that one in every four American Jews has been targeted by antisemitism over the past year, and nearly four in ten report changing their behavior for fear of being identified as Jewish, or for their safety or comfort as Jews.

Ways you can “Shine A Light” on antisemitism:

  • Get social: Like the Federation on Facebook to read and share Federation’s social media posts.
  • Educate yourself and others: Explore and share resources on antisemitism listed on the Federation’s website during the month of December.
  • Call it out: Call out antisemitism when you witness it, in person, at work, on social media, or in your school or community.
  • Advocate: Add your voice to help shape the work of legislators by visiting the ADL Action Center.
  • Report: If you have experienced or witnessed an incident of antisemitism or a hate crime report it to the ADL and the US Department of Justice. Also notify the Federation at (413) 442-4360.
  • Learn more: Visit shinealighton.com for additional resources to share with your family, friends, and colleagues.

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Berkshire Bach Society in concert. Image courtesy of the Berkshire Bach Society.

Buy Berkshire Bach concert tickets at a discount

Great Barrington— The Berkshire Bach Society (BBS) announces a new block of tickets at deep discounts of fifty percent off for employees of area non-profit organizations, educators, and frontline workers, just in time to extend the joy of the season into New Year’s.  Tickets are discounted only for the upcoming Bach at New Year’s: A Baroque Concerto Showcase.

Bach at New Year’s is an annual tradition with performances of Baroque music by nine-time Grammy Award winner Eugene Drucker, Music Director, and the Berkshire Bach Ensemble in Great Barrington on December 31, at 6 p.m., Troy on January 1, at 3 p.m., and Northampton on January 2, at 3 p.m.

Visit www.berkshirebach.org for more information.

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Image courtesy of Liz Sspenlieder.

In Great Barrington for one night only see Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco

Great BarringtonOn December 28 at 7 p.m. see Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco, almost 65 years after its British premiere.

Rhinoceros is directed by Chris Noth and Ken Cheeseman, and produced by Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Ken Cheeseman and Chris Noth. The play features Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Gregory Boover, Ken Cheeseman, Kale Browne, Ken Cheeseman, Nigel Gore, Cloteal L. Horne,  Malcolm Ingram, Paula Langton, and Chris Noth.

Rhinoceros follows the story of a French ne’er do well, Berenger, a heavy drinker and procrastinator, whose friend Jean, a hard-working successful business man, is trying to help Berenger pull his life together. As Berenger waxes on about being in love with his co-worker Daisy, tensions rise between the two friends and as the day unfolds a frightening dynamic arrives on the scene as Berenger discovers that everyone around him, even his best friend, are suddenly changing into rhinoceros’s — in fact the rhino kingdom seems to be taken over the entire town! Don’t miss these staged-readings of Ionesco’s critically-acclaimed and iconic modern-classic! 

The performance will take place at St. James Place, 352 Main Street, Great Barrington. Tickets will be available at the door, $20 suggested donation.