PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - This holiday season is looking a bit different than last year as there are more in-person gatherings.

Last year Chanukah celebrations were virtual for Congregation Beth Israel, but they still managed to have some fun with it.

The synagogue also hosted a drive-thru Chanukah decorations display.

Holiday gatherings back on for many religious organizations, community groups

Image: KPTV

This year the temple is hosting an in-person Chanukah party Friday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m. in its historic Main Sanctuary. A full schedule of all of the temple's Chanukah events can be found here.

Senior Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana says there will be a lot of music and celebration.

Rabbi Cahana says everyone must wear masks and be vaccinated to attend the event.

For every night of Chanukah which begins sundown on Sunday, November 28 the rabbi says the synagogue will still light the candles virtually for the community.

He says he's excited about being able to welcome people back into the temple safely this year.

"Chanukah is a holiday that is about bringing more and more and more light," Rabbi Cahana said. "And in what has been a very dark time in our country, in our city and our community to be able to say we're beginning to see the light - and it's not just last year it was a kind of hopefulness that maybe it was going to be, maybe it was going to be maybe we could see a little bit more light - we really are seeing it."

The party will also be streamed live so people can take part in whichever way they feel most comfortable in celebrating Chanukah.

In addition to Chanukah celebrations, there's also Christmas gatherings scheduled again this year.

The Grotto's annual Christmas Festival of Lights will be back open for the public.

The Grotto's annual Christmas Festival of Lights will be back open for the public.

Organizers say there are more than 2 million lights on display for everyone to look at and walk through at the site this year.

The 30-plus night event incorporates light displays, choir performances, carolers and puppet shows.

Last year the event didn't happen due to the pandemic.

Organizers say they're excited to welcome the community this holiday season.

"We're hoping this will bring a sense of normalcy to families who have come here for years," The Grotto Events and Community Outreach Coordinator, Samantha Kocher said. "The Festival of Lights has been going on for over 30 years and we hear from families who remember coming as kids and now want to bring their kids or sang in high school when they were in a choir and want to bring their kids to see their alma mater singing. So we're hoping that this will bring some Christmas spirit back to families who weren't able to experience it last year."

The Grotto's Christmas Festival of Lights opens Friday and runs through the end of the year.

Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required to get into the event.

Those attending are encouraged to buy tickets online.

Kocher says in light of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) lifting outdoor mask requirements, stay tuned for announcements soon on the event's face mask requirements.

There are several other in-person events happening this year including:

-Holidays at the Belle at the historic Victorian Belle

-The 29th Annual Safeway Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show

-The Gresham Historical Society Gingerbread Competition

-The Cinnamon Bear Holiday Show

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