The Festival of Trees & Lights is a unique holiday event in that it celebrates both Christian and Jewish traditions. November 14-16, Louisville Slugger Field will transform into a winter wonderland featuring hundreds of decorated holiday trees, wreaths and greenery as well as a walk-through display celebrating Chanukah. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Festival of Trees & Lights and its partnership with Louisville’s Jewish community.
In 1989, Jerry Berman founded the “lights” portion of the festival to include the Jewish community and to provide an educational aspect about the rich Jewish heritage for festival guests. Although it took a couple of years for the Jewish area of the Festival of Trees & Lights to get going, eventually it grew into a large vignette space. The vignette featured beautiful displays of menorahs and dreidels on loan from local temples, synagogues and private collections and Chanukah giveaways of dreidels and gelt.
“We wanted it to be a place where the community learned about holidays and what is special to the Jewish faith,” said Richard S. Wolf, M.D., retired medical director of Kosair Children’s Hospital and former Jewish heritage committee chair.
Under Dr. Wolf’s leadership, the Jewish heritage section began to focus on other important holidays and traditions, such as Seder and Shabbat. There was even an elaborate Jewish wedding display under a chuppah, complete with a mannequin bride, groom and rabbi.
Around 3,000-5,000 students from Jefferson County Public Schools attended the Festival of Trees & Lights annually through the school tour program. Students were given the opportunity to learn about Jewish faith and traditions, as well as Christmas, Kwanzaa and the role of Kosair Children’s Hospital in the community.
Traditionally, the Festival of Trees & Lights benefits the area of greatest need at Kosair Children’s Hospital. This year, the event will support a $2 million initiative for the neuroscience and neurosurgery department. With advanced equipment and research, the hospital is able to attract and keep specialists here in our community so that patients will not need to travel outside of the region when they need specialized care. Kosair Children’s Hospital continues to be a source of hope and healing for families facing the uncertainty of life with a neurological disorder so that these children may live long, happy lives.
When asked why supporting Kosair Children’s Hospital is so important, Dr. Wolf said, “Children are only 20 percent of the population, but they are 100 percent of our future.”
You can support the neuroscience program at Kosair Children’s Hospital by attending the Festival of Trees & Lights. In addition to menorahs, dreidels, and Chanukah giveaways, the Jewish heritage display will include a special children’s activity. Doughnut holes to be served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday, November 16, will be provided by Hi-Five Doughnuts and owner Annie Sussman Harlow.
Additional highlights of the event include an ice skating rink, free children’s activities, holiday entertainment, sweets and gifts. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $5 for children 12 and under and seniors 65+; and $8 for adults. For additional event information, visit FestivalofTreesandLights.org.