Menorah will light up Route 1
During Hanukkah, the menorah burns bright to bring to light the miracle that led to religious freedom for the Jews.
But often, the menorah’s glow dims compared to the luster of Christmas lights.
“A lot of people think of Hanukkah as Jewish Christmas,” said Rabbi Ronda Wanderman, who belongs to Beth Sholom Temple in Stafford County. “But it’s its own celebration. Hanukkah means dedication, and the menorah is to publicize the miracle.”
This year, the members of the area’s only Jewish house of worship decided to ignite the eight-day observance with a 12-foot electric menorah on U.S. 1.
Beth Sholom member Adam Fried pushed for the public display as a way to make the congregation more visible.
The temple has been in the area for 78 years, Fried said. But tucked away in the England Run neighborhood, the temple is somewhat inconspicuous.
The area has been growing fast. But the congregation hasn’t, Fried said.
“Jews don’t really proselytize like Christians do,” he said.
But Fried wanted to reach out to Jews in the area who might be seeking a place to worship.
And he thought that the hard-to-miss menorah would be a good opportunity, paired with a sign giving the temple’s Web address.
The temple wanted to add an event that would teach the community about the Jewish holiday, sharing traditions, history and food.
The first night of Hanukkah was the eve of Thanksgiving, and Beth Sholom members thought that would be a tricky time to hold a community event.
So the ceremonial lighting will be held Dec. 1 instead. The event will feature apple cider, chocolate gelt, doughnuts, music, dreidels and games.
“The spirit of this holiday appeals to everybody whether they’re Jewish or not,” Fried said. “It makes me very happy to help make it happen.”
Amy Flowers Umble:
WHAT IS HANUKKAH?
The festival of lights celebrates the rededication of the Jewish Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians in 165 B.C.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: Public Menorah lighting
WHERE: 1975 Jefferson Davis Highway
WHEN: Sunday, 4 p.m. Lighting will be at 4:45 p.m.