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The menorah, the merrier: public event marks Jewish festival of light

December 5, 2018

A public menorah lighting and Hanukkah celebration drew a crowd of revelers and community leaders Monday night.

As the days grow shorter and in the wake of an anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh a little more than a month ago, the event, like the holiday, was a celebration of light.

“Light spreads by its nature,” said Rabbi Shloime Greene of the Chabad-Lubavitch of Southern Minnesota which hosted the event at University Square.

The public event was part of an ongoing community outreach effort by the Chabad. Representatives from the city of Rochester, Olmsted County, the Mayo Clinic and Destination Medical Center all attended the event.

The event marked the second of the eight-night Jewish festival. It marks the eight days in which three days worth of oil lit a looted Jewish temple after a successful Jewish uprising against religious oppression by the ruling Syrian Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.

Each night of the festival, one of eight candles on a menorah is lit

“We always increase in matters of goodness and holiness and in light,” Rabbi David Greene told the crowd.

Jason Schneider, at the behest of his wife, Jessica Schneider, attended the event with his year-and-a-half old son, Levi.

“Times have been dark for us,” Jason said. “I can’t believe so many people came out in support of the Jewish people.”

Mendy Hershkop, of Postville, Iowa, joined the event donning a dreidel costume. Being dressed as the spinning top associated with Hanukkah, Hershkop did plenty of spinning. Having dressed in the costume for the celebration over the last two years, Hershkop said he’s used to it.

“I’ve been spinning a combined 40 hours over my lifetime,” he said.”I stopped getting dizzy.”

Aaron Bentley and Mel Conley attended wearing matching Hanukkah sweaters with sequined menorahs.

“It’s good to come and see other people having fun,” Conley, who is Jewish, signed to Bentley who interpreted.

Rabbi Shloime Greene said spreading light and cheer is universal message which is why he wanted to have a public event to mark the festival.

“It’s a Jewish holiday, but is message resonates for everyone,” he said. “To have a celebration that’s public is important to the nature of the event.”

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