Chabad of Park City celebrates Hanukkah with a grand menorah lighting
Thanksgiving has a special meaning to the Park City Jewish community this year because Thursday, Nov. 28, also marks the first day of Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday known as the Festival of Light and Feast of Dedication.
"It is important for us to thank the creator, just as the early settlers did, for the freedom of religious practice that our wonderful country provides," said Yehudi Steiger, rabbi with the Chabad of Park City. "Hanukkah candles symbolize light of goodness, godliness and warms our hearts and lights the way through darkness, especially during these trying times."
Hanukkah celebrates the miracles that happened to the Jewish people during the second temple, which was about 150 B.C., when they were under the rule of the Greek regime.
At that time the Greeks passed laws that prevented anyone from practicing Judaism and even declared an altar to Zeus be erected in the Jewish temple, Steiger explained.
"A Jewish priest named Mattityahu led a revolt and overcame the Greek army and went into the temple to cleanse the temple and light a seven-branch menorah," he said. "Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any pure olive oil."
Eventually the small group of Jews found a little amount of oil that would usually last for one night.
"The oil lasted for eight nights," Steiger said. "This is why we light a new candle on the menorah for eight nights."
To celebrate Hanukkah with Park City, the Chabad of Park City will present a Grand Menorah lighting at the Kimball Art Center, 328 Park Ave., on Tuesday Dec. 3, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.
"We light one menorah candle each day until the end of the holiday, because we are commanded to add to the lights you already have lit," Steiger explained. "It’s like us as people, we have to add to the good we did the day before."
This will mark the second year the Chabad of Park City will light a menorah in town.
"Since the Chabad, which is the biggest Jewish organization in the world with more than 3,500 centers around the world, has been in Park City for just one year, this will be only the second time we will light a menorah with the community," Steiger said.
"We always do a big lighting in a public place that also lets others know about Hanukkah and invite them to join with us."
After the lighting, which will take place on the KAC patio, everyone will go inside to continue the celebration.
"We will enjoy live music by Desert Wind, a Utah band that specializes in old-world music, and an array of activities for children, including arts and crafts and food," Steiger said. "We will have donuts and latkas and things like that."
In addition to the public menorah, Steiger said Jews light their own menorahs in their homes.
"We put them by the door or window for all to see," he said. "It’s not enough to light your own, we need to share the light with the outside to light up the darkness. It’s not unlike the freedom won at the time of the revolt, we will celebrate Main Street as a community and share this message with Jew and non-Jew alike.
"For me it is a privilege to be able to share the warmth and light of the holiday to families in Park City and we hope everyone can come," Steiger said.
The Chabad of Park City will present a grand menorah-lighting ceremony to celebrate Hanukkah with the community at the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 435-714-8590 or visit http://www.jewishparkcity.com .
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