ST. GEORGE — Menorahs have started appearing in various places around St. George in observation of the upcoming Hanukkah holiday, which begins Sunday. As a way to usher in the eight-day observation that is also known as the Jewish “Festival of Lights,” a 12-foot tall menorah will be lit at Town Square Park.
The public is invited to the lighting event, now in its second year, which will take place Sunday at 5 p.m. and be followed by festivities at the park.
“The message of Hanukkah is the message of light,” Rabbi Mendy Cohen, director of the Chabad Jewish Center of St. George said in a press release. “The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness. A small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”
Beginning Sunday and carrying through Dec. 30, Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah”) represents a time in 168 B.C. when, according to Jewish tradition, the Jewish people rebelled against the attempts of Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes’ to abolish Judaism.
More details surrounding the events that form the foundation of the Hanukkah holiday were shared in a press release from the Jewish Chabad Center:
It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated and defiled the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service.
Upon recapturing the Temple only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.
Additional information about Hanukkah can be found at the Chabad of Southern Utah website.
Cohen said the menorah lighting in St. George serves as a sign of the city’s dedication to preserve liberty and religious freedom, and several residents said they are looking forward to attending the event.
“I want my kids to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confidence as Americans” said Sara Fisher of St. George. “Chabad Lubavitch’s Hanukkah menorahs are arguably one of the most important developments ever to help my child’s education. I wish they had this where I grew up.”
Activities to be held following the menorah lighting include family entertainment, face paint, menorah and dreidel arts and crafts, music, hot latkes and chocolate gelt coins.
Cohen said the dreidel, the spinning top toy associated with Hanukkah, has much more significance beyond just a childhood game. It was used as a means to conceal the study of Jewish teachings at a time when King Antiochus Epiphanes’ empire forbade the practice of the Judaism.
The symbols on each side of the dreidel come together to form the phrase “a great miracle happened here,” Cohen said.
St. George’s menorah is one of more than 15,000 large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 100 countries around the world, including in front of landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower and the Kremlin, according to the press release.
About the sponsoring organization
The Chabad Jewish Center of St. George and Southern Utah offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations.
- What: Hanukkah menorah lighting.
- Where: St. George Town Square, 50 S. Main St., St. George.
- When: Sunday, Dec. 22, at 5 p.m.
- Admission: Free
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