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December 04, 2016
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Happy Hanukkah — Let there be light!

“Amahl & the Night Visitors” director Carol Castel addresses the youngsters prior to the performance at Bethel Woods.

Corrinne (with the help of many) had researched the traditional Hanukkah fare, so there was no lack of oil-laden entrees and confections on the table, which had been festooned in silver and blue and included a place of honor (and presents!) for Dharma, the wonder dog. I was (quite literally) ferklempt, overcome at the generosity of spirit of my friends, who gathered that night to hear me regale them with the history of Hanukkah, (www.myjewishlearning.com), to learn the “dreidel song” and to let me drone on about how my mom worked tirelessly to make the holiday as “special” (no mean feat) as Christmas.

I managed (for something completely different) not to cry as I bid farewell to these incredible folks, but will never forget what an exceptional gift they gave me that night and am thrilled to be a small part of the celebration about to take place there on the 14th and 15th at Santa’s Village. For more information, call 845/807-7555. The event is free, but a new unwrapped toy for those less fortunate is most welcome. If you’re in need of a good laugh, I’ll be there on Saturday (from 5 to 8 p.m.) dressed as an elf (with you-know-who tucked under my arm) so bring your camera and feel free to mock.

Meanwhile, across town, (www.bethelwoodscenter.org) there was a different story being told, as the Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) presented a holiday classic, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” for a packed house. After a greeting by DVO general manager and director Carol Castel, everyone sat rapt with attention as Mason Marie Clark (Amahl) and Carol Diefenbach (Mother) joined wise men Eric Barsness (Balthazar), John Kaneklides (Kaspar) and Wayne Line (Melchior) on stage with Marty Strasinger (The Page) to tell the story of a young boy who receives a magical visit from the wise men. The show was beautifully presented, the voices glorious, and what was (for many youngsters in the house) a first-time experience with opera, a great introduction to the art form itself. As the final presentation in the 2012 World Stage Series at Bethel Woods, it was (IMHO) a fitting tribute to the season, and the gingerbread cookies were swell, too. When the show was over, Dharma played with the kids before reminding me that Santa would be on Main Street in Callicoon the next day, and that she needed some down time before her next public appearance.