Michiana's Jewish community celebrates beginning of Hanukkah

NOW: Michiana’s Jewish community celebrates beginning of Hanukkah

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Sunday marks the beginning of Hanukkah! The Jewish community of Michiana came out to the Jon Hunt Plaza outside of the Morris Performing Arts Center to commemorate the start of the holiday, and they say that celebrating it with the rest of the South Bend community makes the meaning of Hanukkah even more special.

“We’re at the darkest time of the year; it’s cold and dark, and here we are to celebrate the Festival of Lights,” says Mayor of South Bend, James Mueller.

Some call if the Festival of Lights, but most know it as Hanukkah; the Jewish celebration of rededication and bringing light to darkness.

“In Hebrew, the word ‘Hanukkah’ means to dedicate,” says Moshe Kruger, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Saint Joseph Valley. “This holiday really is to rededicate ourselves to making the world a better place and bringing light to dark places.”

According to Chabad.org, Hanukkah celebrates the reclaiming and rededicating of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and the Jewish use the menorah to represent the lighting of the Holy Temple. During the eight nights of Hanukkah, a flame is kindled on each candle stick of the menorah.

“The story goes that when they did the rededication, there was enough oil for one day, and it lasted for eight,” explains Kruger.

At the celebration, Mayor James Mueller held the honor of lighting the ‘shamash’, or the ‘helper candle’, and kindling the first flame of Hanukkah. The Jewish community of Michiana says it’s special to see the city leaders take part in their religious traditions.

“I give a lot of credit to the city leaders for making our community as inclusive as possible, and the fact that the Jewish community can come out and celebrate with greater South Bend,” Kruger says.

He adds that celebrating the start of Hanukkah with the community is a step in the right direction in making the world, and the city of South Bend, a better place.

“We still have so many big societal problems that we’re trying to work through, so it’s such a timely holiday for us to be celebrating today,” says Kruger.

The menorah in front of the Morris will have a new candle lit for each night of Hanukkah until the holiday ends on December 26th.

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