October 14, 2019

Chanukah campaign seeks to raise literacy in rural guatemala

For the second year, Reform congregation Stephen S. Wise Temple will participate in Light Up Literacy, a Chanukah-inspired campaign that aims to increase literacy rates in Guatemala, which suffers from a more dire case of illiteracy than any country in Central America, according to U.N.-collected data.

Stephen S. Wise Temple will reach out to family congregation members for donations, and Rabbi Liat Yardeni-Funk expressed hope that for one night during the upcoming holiday, people will make donations in lieu of giving presents.

“This is the gift that keeps on giving,” she said.

Nonprofit organization Reading Village started the Light Up Literacy campaign, working from Guatemala and from its headquarters in Boulder, Colo.

Larry Dressler, co-founder of the nonprofit, said funds raised will go to Concepcion, a small village in Guatemala.

Other local congregations plan to join the effort this year, including University Synagogue and Wilshire Boulevard Temple, along with congregations outside of Los Angeles.

Anybody who donates to Reading Village will receive handmade bracelets, which the villagers in Guatemala made and which boast blue and white colors in celebration of Chanukah.

Last year, Stephen S. Wise Temple raised $10,000 to help Reading Village, according to the estimates of Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School Principal Tami Weiser. For the upcoming campaign, Weiser hopes to match that amount.

“These kids are walking around with these bracelets,” Weiser said, “and it’s a really visible sign of the campaign.”