Let There Be Light


In Southern California, as in most of the United States, much of the merrymaking that takes place this time of year is centered around Christmas. But many cultures and religions have their own winter celebrations. The reasons for these events vary, but one thing they all do is bring warmth and light into a season associated with cold and dark.

One very special holiday is the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. and the miracle of a single day’s supply of oil — used for the lighting of the temple’s menorah — lasting eight days. This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Sunday, Dec. 18 and ends the evening of Monday, Dec. 26. 

Ventana Monthly lets the Festival of Lights shine with a feature on Danny’s Deli and Grill in Ventura. Famous for its New York-style sandwiches, kosher-style cuisine and welcoming atmosphere, the restaurant is one of the few in the area where you can find traditional Jewish dishes such as stuffed cabbage, knishes and the hearty brisket-filled dumplings known as kreplach. As Hanukkah nears, the bakery case is filled with beautifully decorated Star of David and dreidel cookies while the kitchen turns out latkes by the dozen. Owner Wendy Collings shares the story behind the founding of Danny’s Deli . . . and some recipes enjoyed by her own family . . . in this month’s Cover Story.

For more light and life, flip to About Town and our story on the Snow N Glow Holiday Festival. CBF Productions has turned several acres of the Ventura County Fairgrounds into a Winter Wonderland indoors and out. Firepits, igloos, a carousel and fireworks promise plenty of opportunities for merrymaking. But the biggest highlights are probably the snow tubing course and a decorative walking tour of over a million holiday lights, stunningly arranged to create an unforgettable experience.

You won’t find menorahs or holiday decorations in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a land wild and free (for now), where the reindeer (aka caribou) roam and the grizzly bear and Dall sheep play. Travel the remote Kongakut River and explore the megafauna of this precious wilderness in Travel.

’Tis the season to find kindness, joy and the warm embrace of family and friendship — no matter what or how you celebrate. I hope you find all that and more, now and in the months to come. May we all be blessed with good health, good cheer and lots of light.

– Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer