12-foot aluminum Hanukkah menorah brings light and hope to southern Utah amid pandemic

People gather at St. George Town Square for the inaugural lighting of a public menorah in the city, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2018 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Chabad Jewish Center will light a public 12-foot Hanukkah menorah placed at Town Square Park, on Dec. 13, the 4th night of the eight-day holiday. While the scope of the ceremony will be limited amid St. George’s ongoing coronavirus emergency, the lights will shine forth as brightly as ever.

This year’s menorah lighting is done with the recognition of the crucial need for a message of hope during what for many is a very difficult time. Chabad Jewish Center will also distribute menorahs, candles, and Hanukkah-at-home kits to those celebrating at home.

“The menorah serves as a symbol of light and hope for us today amidst the darkness of the pandemic, as it did for generations before us,” said Rabbi Mendy Cohen. “The flames of the menorah shine out into the night, reminding us that even when confronted with much darkness, a tiny light can dispel it all. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”

This year, the holiday has added significance as so many will be isolated at home on Hanukkah amid these difficult times. As the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—would often teach, the menorah is a reminder that light can be brought to the darkest of times, and uniquely, at the core of the holiday’s observance is sharing the light with others who may not be experiencing it.

Indeed, the coronavirus has hit St. George with many tragic victims of the pandemic. And the virus has hurt many in St George–not only those infected but also those who have suffered economic and emotional devastation.

Throughout the pandemic, Chabad Jewish Center has been on the front lines of providing social, humanitarian and spiritual support to Utahns. The covid-safe menorah lighting is the latest of many innovative programs created in response to these unique times by Chabad Jewish Center, including Passover Seders-to-go, Rosh Hashanah shofar in park, and Shabbat-in-a-box deliveries.

To ensure everyone is safe, the menorah lighting will be streamed online to ensure the outdoor event is safe. The event will be broadcast live via Facebook and Zoom JewishSU.com/Live so St. George families can share in the celebration from the safety of their home. Prior to the menorah lighting ceremony, pre-packaged menorah kits and holiday treats-to-go can be reserved for pickup or delivery at JewishSU.com/kit.

The menorah lighting is part of the worldwide Hanukkah campaign launched by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1973. The campaign highlights and encourages the central theme of the holiday—publicizing the story of the Hanukkah miracle and the victory of light over darkness, a message of hope greatly needed today. In the decades since the Rebbe’s Hanukkah awareness campaign began it has revitalized widespread observance of the Festival of Lights and brought it to the mainstream, returning what some have mistakenly dismissed as a minor holiday to its roots as a public proclamation of the ultimate triumph of freedom over oppression.

This year has seen illness, death, quarantine, closures and business collapses, all amidst an overwhelming sense of sheer confusion and despair. In light of this heightened sense of urgency to share the message, spirit and hope of Hanukkah, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement worldwide is preparing the largest Hanukkah awareness campaign in history.

This year’s global campaign will see Chabad reach 8 million Jews in more than 100 countries. With safety measures limiting many in-person gatherings, Chabad will erect some 15,000 large public menorahs, which will be seen by millions on streets and public squares around the world, including in front of landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Kremlin.

Chabad-organized menorah parades will see over 6,500 Hanukkah menorah-topped cars hit the road, bringing the Hanukkah message of hope and joy through the city and into residential neighborhoods, allowing families to safely share the joy and light of Hanukkah with pride. With many events curtailed, others opting for a drive-in model and many people isolating, Chabad will help families bring the light and celebration of Hanukkah into their homes and will distribute approximately 32 million Hanukkah candles, more than 700,000 menorah kits, 350,000 family at-home Hanukkah kits and 2.5 million holiday guides in 17 languages.

Throughout the State of Utah, Chabad will be organizing several giant menorah displays and public menorah lightings, giant menorahs made out of ice, Chanukah music Concert, menorah parades and more. To find a local event in Utah, or practically anywhere throughout the world, visit the international Hanukkah event directory at www.JewishSU.com/HanukkahEvents.

For more information about Hanukkah and a local schedule of events visit JewishSU.com/Hanukkah

Event details

  • What: Virtual Menorah Lighting
  • Where: Town Square Park, JewishSU.com/Live
  • When: Sunday, Dec. 13, 5:45 p.m.
  • Cost: Free, all are welcome

About Hanukkah

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins this year on the evening of Thursday, December 10 and concludes the evening of Friday, December 18. 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 the Hanukkah holiday is available at JewishSU.com]/Hanukkah.

About the sponsoring organization

Chabad Jewish Center offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact Rabbi Mendy Cohen – Director, Chabad Jewish Center, at 435-619-6630, [email protected] or visit JewishSU.com.

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