AP NEWS

‘This is what it looks like when we come together’

December 19, 2017 GMT

Bathed in light from 18 Hanukkah menorahs, Rabbi Michelle Werner welcomed about as many gathered families to share the joy of the holiday at B’nai Israel Synagogue.

“This is the light that no one can extinguish; this is what it looks like when we come together,” she said Saturday evening amid the menorahs. “The more of us together, the brighter the room.”

The nightly menorah lighting is typically done at home during the festival of lights, but on Saturday, the fifth day of the eight-day festival, families were encouraged to bring their menorahs from home and light them together.

For Rochelle and Michael Wainberg, that meant bringing two menorahs — one for each of their children.

The couple gave their children each a menorah when they were born, noting the importance of the celebration in their family.

Although Hanukkah doesn’t rise to the level of the High Holy Days or Passover in the Jewish religion, Michael Wainberg said the celebration is important.

“It’s more of a reflection of family time together,” he said.

“It’s all about family and tradition,” Rochelle Wainberg echoed.

As newer members, the Wainbergs have attended B’nai Israel Synagogue for 18 months and said the concept of family extends to those who gathered Saturday in the house of worship.

“The congregation is unbelievably welcoming,” Michael Wainberg said.

Werner reflected on that idea Saturday as she prepared those gathered to light their candles.

“Our room has already been lit up by all these beautiful people who are gathered here,” she said, later noting the 18 menorahs carried unplanned significance.

“Eighteen is the word for life,” she said, reflecting on the Hebrew language. “It’s the luckiest number in Judaism.”