Jews around Huntsville do not need to look very far to ensure that they can celebrate the upcoming Hanukkah holiday with others. Several local Jewish congregations will be hosting outdoor celebrations to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, destroyed by the Syrians during a battle against the Maccabees, and light up an otherwise dreary time in our lives due to the pandemic.
“Perhaps it’s no surprise that Hanukkah, the holiday known as the Festival of Lights, falls at the darkest time of the year, when daylight is most scarce,” said Rabbi Eric Berk, religious leader for Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville.
“Especially dark is this winter of 2020, due to the pandemic and the awful toll it has taken in ways measurable, unmeasurable, and immeasurable. Which is one reason why it feels particularly meaningful for Jews to light our menorah this winter. Let us all, in the darkness of this winter, do what we can to illumine these most challenging times and help to ensure brighter times ahead.”
Three Huntsville Celebrations
Illuminating in a public way is exactly what the Huntsville Jewish community is planning with three distinct celebrations during the eight-day holiday.
Although Hanukkah officially starts at sundown on Thursday, December 10, the first public celebration will be held on Sunday, December 13, beginning at 4 p.m. at Bridge Street Town Center, specifically outside the Belk Courtyard. Hosted by Chabad of Huntsville, the Light Up the Night Grand Menorah Lighting Ceremony will feature music, street performers, and kids’ crafts, as well as foods, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and fresh donuts. While this is the sixth year that Rabbi Moshe Cohen and his wife, Mushky, have coordinated the festive event, it is the first where they will be encouraging participants to wear face masks and social distance as best as possible. Click for More Details
Two days later, on Tuesday, December 15, beginning at 5 p.m., Chabad of Huntsville will be coordinating its Car Menorah Parade. A truly social distancing event, families interested in participating register their car for a cost of $45 and then join the line of parade participants with lighted menorahs attached to the roof of their cars. The parade, which is in its third year, travels around Huntsville to shine light upon the city. To register for this event, click here.
To culminate the eight-day festivities, Temple B’nai Sholom will be hosting an outdoor public menorah lighting on Thursday, December 17, at 5:30 p.m. in Big Spring Park East, at the base of the steps coming down from Court Square. This event will be held on the eighth night of Hanukkah and feature live music, as well as the full lighting of the menorah. Click for More Details
A Little Hanukkah History
Hanukkah, an eight-night holiday, literally means “dedication” and is celebrated to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem destroyed by the Syrians during a battle against the Maccabees. Often referred to the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah also acknowledges the fact that the Maccabees, a very small army of Jews, defeated the Syrians who were considered one of the mightiest armies on earth. Typically, a Hanukkah celebration includes the lighting of the menorah, adding one additional candle each night until all eight candles are lit; eating fried foods, like donuts and latkes (potato pancakes); singing traditional blessings and songs; and playing dreidel, a four-sided spinning top.
Hopefully this list of fun events will make it easy for your family to celebrate Hanukkah in Huntsville!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Weiss, a resident of Madison, is a current educator, military spouse, and mom to two older children. Before her military-related adventures began, she wrote for newspapers in New York and New Jersey and then went on to do hospital public relations in New Jersey.
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