Throughout the holiday season, we come across a boatload of Christmas-oriented celebrations and observance, ranging from pop-up markets to tree lightings. There may be elements of other cultural traditions thrown into the mix, but they play a more reserved role.
As a way for the Jewish community to partake in the realm of festive public ceremonies, Center for Jewish Life of Downtown Buffalo will be hosting a community-wide Hanukkah celebration on Tuesday, November 30 at 5pm. As part of the ceremony, the organization will ignite a 9ft Hanukkah menorah, erected at Niagara Square. The lighting will be followed by a community-wide celebration.
The menorah-lighting, which takes place on the 3rd night of the eight-day holiday, will be attended by dignitaries, members of the faith, and anyone who supports a society that is inclusive, multicultural, and accepting of all religious beliefs.
The Menorah lighting is part of the worldwide Hanukkah campaign, an initiative launched by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, in 1973.
“The menorah serves as a symbol of Buffalo’s dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G‑d freely, openly, and with pride. This is true especially in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution,” said Rabbi Labkowski, who is organizing the ceremony, which seconds as a welcoming message for people to come together in peace through religious freedom.
After the lighting of the menorah lighting ceremony, the community will partake in a celebratory social, complete with donuts, latkes, chocolate dipped dreidel cookies, and traditional Hanukkah Gelt. There will also be traditional singing, as well as special Hanukkah themed gifts for the children, including LED dreidel glasses, LED menorah head boppers, LED menorah and dreidel wristbands, and colored dreidels. All of this is being offered, as a way to encourage the public to participate in these typically private offerings.
The campaign highlights and encourages the central theme of the holiday — publicizing the story of the Hanukkah miracle.
“I want my kids to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confidence as Americans,” said Mrs. Klara Kleinman of Buffalo, who is looking forward to attending the public menorah lighting with her two children. “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.”
“The message of Hanukkah is the message of light,” added Rabbi Labkowski. “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.”
Buffalo’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.
For more information about Hanukkah and a local schedule of events visit cjldowntown.com. All attendees will also be entered into 4 raffles, with the grand prize a Samsung Chromebook 4+ 15.6”.
Celebration & Menorah Lighting
November 30, 2021 at 5pm
Lead image: Photo by Diana Polekhina