Bristol, TN

Hanukkah in Christmas Village? Speedway in Lights Welcomes All for Children

John M. Dabbs
2020 Christmas Village - Bristol's Speedway In LightsJohn Dabbs/Photographer

Speedway Children's Charities-Bristol Chapter has been running the light show at Bristol Motor Speedway for 25 years now. Last year saw the first Jewish vendor (that we know about), complete with Kosher items and traditional Jewish and Hanukkah foods.

Christmas Village and Speedway In Lights welcomes everyone, regardless of what sets them apart from the mainstream, or anything else for that matter. The event raises money for Speedway Children's Charities serving the greater Bristol area. The many benefactors of the fundraiser are more than glad to get the funds in support of their programs.

Hanukkah at Christmas Village
Shane's Place at SIL 2021Nikki Lewin-Dabbs/Facebook

Shane Lewin, owner of Shane's Place, LLC., says they applied to get into Speedway In Lights when the vendor application period began for 2019. We were a new business, just starting out in July of 2019, and new it would be a big boost to getting established. We weren't accepted. Lewin said they looked at the offerings of the other vendors and saw their menu was similar to some of the other vendors.

Lewin says he and his mother discussed ways to stand out and enhance their chances of being accepted in 2020. After looking at what was different between them and everyone else, they realized there wasn't any Jewish or Kosher foods - such as traditional Hanukkah items. They began offering items unique to them on their 2020 application. You can find these items at their booth:

  • Latkes (fried potatoe items) - tradtionally served with apple sauce or sour cream
  • Knish (pastry filled with seasoned potatoes - though it can be other type fillings) - good with spicy mustard
  • Apple Spice Cake
  • Coconut Macaroons
  • Chocolate Pretzel Rods
  • Candy Dreidels
  • Matzo Ball Soup
  • Challah - (braided bread - Shane's Place orders theirs from Wheeler's Bagels in Johnson City)

You can also see some Jewish decorations - a menorah, Hanukkah banner, and Will Ferrel's "Elf" inflatable (from the movie of that name).

Lewin says they've made lots of friends and gotten to know most all of the vendors who also set up at Speedway In Lights at the Christmas Village. He says "Bo who runs the pork-rinds and cotton candy booth is always helpful. The Norris' family at Kettlelicious who have the kettle corn barn have become almost like family.

Jewish mothers
Shane Lewin and Nikki Lewin-DabbsNikki Lewin-Dabbs/Facebook

There is an old adage, and stereotypes of Jewish mothers, as there are with other mothers in differnt cultures. You can find a list of good things about Jewish mothers at Shane's Place was the fruition of his mother pushing him to be his best. Jewish mothers are known as being adamant their children learn and appreciate school. Lewin's mother pushed him to finish culinary school (Southeast Culinary & Hospitality College - Bristol, Va.), and finish his bachelor's degree at ETSU.

Lewin credits his mother for pushing him to succeed. After finishing school, she helped me purchase his concession trailer and renovate it. Now she works with him every time it's open and she's off from her other job. She's there to help him succeed, even though he's the boss.

The Lewins are members of the Bnai Shalom Congregation in Blountville.

Jewish Christmas

Many people equate Hanukkah and Christmas as being equivalents - but they aren't. While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus in the Christian faith, Hanukkah celebrates the Maccabean victories over King Antiochus Epiphanes, and the rededication of the Temple on Kislev 25 in 164 BCE.


According to Britannica - Hanukkah was originally compared to the Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles, which were not able to be celebrated by Jews due to Antiochus invasion. It became a celebration of the rededication of the Temple. After the temple was purified, as ordered by Judas, a new alter was installed. The practice of lighting the candles on the menorah began after the miracle of the oil.

The miracle, according to the Talmud, was when Judas Maccabeus entered the Temple, he found only a small jar of oil that had not been defiled by Antiochus. The jar had only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil miraculously burned for eight days until new consecrated oil could be found. This established the precednt that the festival should last eight days. The practice is enshrined in the Talmud (Shabbat 21b).


You may have seen people spelling the name of the Jewish festival of light differently by some people. The fact remains, there are several correct spellings. Hanukkah - Hebrew for "dedication"- can also be spelled Ḥanukka, Chanukah, or Chanukkah. The Jewish festival begins on Kislev 25 (normally in December, but in November this year - according to the Gregorian Calendar). The festival is was originally shorter, but since the mircle of the oil, it is celebrated for eight days.

The author is the step-father of Shane Lewin, and also volunteers at the business Shane's Place LLC.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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