OC Girl Scouts Learn about Hanukkah, Jewish Traditions amid Rise in Hate Crimes

Nearly 200 Girl Scouts got a head-start in this year's Hanukkah celebration in Irvine.

Hundreds of Girl Scouts in Orange County are celebrating this holiday season with inclusion and diversity in mind.

Ahead of the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah on Sunday, Dec. 18, nearly 200 members from Girl Scouts of Orange County gathered at Congregation Shir Ha-Ma'alot in Irvine to participate in the second annual "Girl Scouts Celebrate Hanukkah" event and learn about the special tradition.

“This was my second year celebrating Hanukkah with Girl Scouts,” Elsie Mendoza, a Girl Scout Brownie, says. “I really like learning about the traditions. I especially love lighting the candles.”

Participants also got to light the menorah and played traditional games like dreidel while enjoying Sufganiyot, jelly-filled donuts traditionally eaten during Hanukkah.

The inclusive event holds more significance this year as antisemitism has been rising across the country. A survey says 2021 was the highest year on record for reports of harassment, vandalism and violence against the Jewish community.  

Organizers say the Hanukkah event can promote compassion and understanding among future leaders.

“Empathy and tolerance are just the beginning,” Vikki Shepp, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Orange County, explains. “Being a sister to every Girl Scout also means standing up for one another and actively working to include many voices. That’s what we hope to impart upon our Girl Scouts.”

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