SEBRING — An enormous metal menorah shone light into the darkness at Rotary Park Wednesday as members of the local Jewish community gathered to celebrate Hanukkah.
Rabbi Moshe Lazaros from Chabad Jewish Center in Lakeland organized a memorable Hanukkah ceremony with a beautiful menorah that stretched its long arms into the tree branches. Delicious jelly-filled doughnuts, lively Hanukkah music and a special photo opportunity for children made the event a wonderful celebration of the miracle that occurred nearly 2,000 years ago.
“Syrian Greeks were not keen on Jews having their own religion, so they desecrated the temple,” Lazaros said. “A bunch of Maccabees, Jewish men, used guerrilla warfare tactics against their army until they left. Afterwards, the Jews had to clean the temple and rededicate it.”
Part of dedicating the temple is the lighting of the menorah, Lazaros said. Pure olive oil is consecrated and is used for lighting this special type of candelabra. “The Greeks broke the seals on the jars of olive oil in the temple, so that oil could not be used,” he said.
“They were only able to find one jar, enough [to light the menorah] for one day,” Lazaros said. “It takes eight days to process olive oil, so they could not get more oil right away. The miracle is that this oil [from one jar] lasted eight days and eight nights.”
The menorah is lit in each Jewish home and in public ceremonies to remember this miracle.
Today, Jewish people celebrate by eating anything fried, such as doughnuts or potato pancakes. Approximately, 17.5 million oily doughnuts are eaten in Israel during Hanukkah, according to aish.com.
Before the ceremony started, Sebring City Councilman Lenard Carlisle and Mayor John Shoop welcomed Lazaros to Sebring and joined in eating jelly-filled doughnuts. People gathered in front of the menorah, and the time for remembering began.
Marvin Khan, who belongs to Temple Israel in Sebring, and Lazaros led the group in reciting the blessings, which were spoken in Hebrew.
Following the blessings, Hanukkah music filled the air with the sound of celebration and Ari Clarke, 6, posed as Judah of Maccabee. The brisk wind made lighting the menorah challenging, but the rabbi and his assistants guarded the flames from the wind so the oil-filled menorah could be lit.
The lights shone as nightfall approached breaking through the darkness. The light from the menorah helps Jewish people remember a little light dispels much darkness, so they light their menorahs in front of a window or door for all the world to see.