Chabad of Venice will be hosting their annual Hanukkah Klezmer Festival on Dec. 9 at Centennial Park in downtown Venice, an open event for the entire community starting at 4:30 p.m.

A special 12-foot “Tree of Life” Menorah with pictures of the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh massacre will be unveiled at this year’s event. Participants will have the chance to add notes of well wishes to the families and Mitzvah- good deeds resolution on the Menorah.

“The Hanukkah story is about freedom from religious oppression,” explained Rabbi Sholom Schmerling, at Chabad of Venice.

“In light of the recent religious and racial violence in our country it is so important that we all come together, all of our community regardless of religious faith, race, or cultural background. The strength that exists in our combined unity will truly turn this dark period to light.

“Together we march in solidarity; arm in arm. We kindle each other as we add light to the world. At this time of celebration, turn on your light. Pittsburgh, our brothers and sisters were about life, not death. In their memory we are their light. The Menorah perfectly embodies this theme — to take from the darkest of dark and transform it into the greatest of lights.” Schmerling said.

This year’s Hanukkah event features a live performance from the Freylekh Klezmer band, a presentation from Chabad’s Hebrew School students, and a Dreidel House and moon bounce for children. Traditional Hanukkah foods — latkes, donuts, and Matzah ball soup — will be served, in what promises to be a most enjoyable evening.

The festival of Hanukkah commemorates the 2nd century BCE Jewish victory over the oppressive Hellenistic regime, and the miracles that took place as the Jerusalem Temple was restored. Upon returning to the Temple the Maccabees — a name given to the Jewish “freedom fighters” — found only one flask of untainted olive oil with which to light the Menorah, yet, miraculously, this one flask lasted for eight entire days. A Menorah is lit for eight nights commemorating the miracle and a tradition to eat “oily” foods throughout the festival has come to symbolize this miracle.

Sunday’s, Dec. 9, event is not the only Hanukkah celebration scheduled for this year. Public Menorah lightings will take place at 5 p.m., on Dec. 2, at 439 W. Dearborn St. in Englewood, and again on Dec. 4, at the Warm Mineral Springs in North Port.

For more information, visit www.chabadofvenice.com or call 941-493-2770.

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