The students of TAG Academy in Florida poured their boundless energy into spreading the light and joy of Chanukah, traveling in a caravan of menorah-topped vehicles and assisting in local menorah lightings and events.
TAG Academy opened its doors this fall for determined students ages 14-17 who happen to have a little added bounce in their step and extra energy to share.
After spending the first two months balancing academic studies with fun-filled activities like sports and creative arts, the students wholeheartedly poured their boundless energy into the Festival of Lights by parading throughout the S. Florida community each night of the holiday, assisting in local menorah lightings and Chanukah events.
TAG, which is based in the new Chabad SW Broward campus in Cooper City, traveled each night of Chanukah in a specially organized caravan consisting of a menorah clad school bus transformed into the newly decorated ‘TAG Mitzvah Tank’ and several rented pickup trucks topped as well with beautifully designed, well-lit menorahs.
The menorahs were masterfully crafted by the TAG students headed by shliach Levi Laufer of New York. The Chanukah caravan paraded through the streets of Broward County, visiting schools, shopping centers and senior assisted living facilities to help children and the elderly kindle the menorah.
They rode through the streets and on highways illuminating the cities from Bal Harbour and Miami Beach to as far north as Palm Beach. They even traveled to the southern tip of the United States, Key West, to assist the local Chabad Center bring holiday joy, cheer and light to all they encountered.
TAG Education Director Rabbi Zalmy Raksin pointed out, “The TAG teens were armed with free menorah kits, Chanukah candles, jelly donuts and chocolate Chanukah gelt (coins). They visited homes and participated in events throughout the area, distributing hundreds of holiday gifts.”
TAG’s Chanukah activities kicked off in Cooper City last Sunday, the first day of Chanukah, with more than 500 men, women and children coming out to celebrate candle number one of the Chanukah festival on Chabad’s new beautiful 6.5 acre campus.
The campus was adorned with inflatable rides and offered holiday crafts and a delicious kosher BBQ with many other sweet Chanukah treats. Highlighting the Sunday event was the lighting of the giant 18 foot menorah. A cherry-picker was then hoisted 100 feet in the air, allowing Chanukah Gelt to parachute from the sky into the hands of the hundreds of excited children waiting below.
In addition to manning the rides and food booths, the TAG students added to the ambiance as they danced in circles with the guests and performed acrobatic flips.
“My boys had such a great time, ” exclaimed Yair Saguey of Cooper City. “The boys brought such excitement to tonight’s celebration with their dancing, somersaults and warm smiles. It was really awesome.”
Rabbi Shmuly and Devorah Hurwitz who helped coordinate the Chanukah Funday in Cooper City, also made sure that a public menorah lighting took place each night of Chanukah at different homes and locations in the area.
Rabbi Pinny Andrusier noted, “As Director of Chabad SW Broward for 30 years, we have hosted many memorable Chanukah celebrations, however with the addition of TAG Academy and the dedication of all the rabbis in the community, this is by far the most joyous and event-filled Chanukah yet.”
Koby Lerner who serves as administrator of TAG Academy commented, “And TAG is just getting started, we have so much more in store for our students and for the Jewish community at large. Stay tuned!”