Hanukkah Hullaballoo will rock out for the JCC in Krakow, Poland!


Sometimes the stars really do align.

They certainly did when Jonathan Ornstein found himself in St. Louis recently to speak at the 32nd annual World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors and of the Holocaust and Descendants (WFJCSH&D) conference held downtown. Ornstein is the executive director of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, Poland.

As it turns out, Jeff and David Lazaroff, better known as the Brothers Lazaroff, had already committed the proceeds from their upcoming Hanukkah Hullabaloo concert Dec. 3 at the Grandel Theater to the JCC in Krakow because of the outstanding work Ornstein and his team have been doing helping Ukrainian refugees. As Ornstein explained, in the last eight months, his JCC has assisted 140,000 Ukrainian refugees in Krakow, 95% of whom are not Jewish.

“The need is tremendous,” Ornstein said. “Five hundred people a day come in for food. Many need a place to live, clothing, and diapers for their children. We have created safe spaces for women in need, daycare, and legal and social support services. The need is ongoing and vast, so we appreciate every bit of help we can get.”

The Lazaroff brothers arranged to meet Ornstein while he was in town so the three of them could shoot a video promoting the Hanukkah show and discuss refugee relief. I tagged along for fun.

That’s when I learned Ornstein met his wife at a Hanukkah celebration at the Krakow JCC.

“Three-and-a-half million Polish Jews were among the six million who perished in the Holocaust,” said Ornstein, who grew up in Queen, N.Y. and made aliyah before moving to Poland. “The JCC was founded in 2008 to help rebuild Jewish life in Krakow. My wife did not know she was Jewish until more recently. That is actually not so unusual because so much of the country’s Jewish past was lost.”

For tickets and more information about the Brothers Lazaroff’s 12th annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo click here.