“Be a lamp lighter.”

“A flame increases the light of goodness and kindness,” Rabbi Sholom Schmerling told the audience at the Hanukkah celebration at Centennial Park. “We are crushed, but the presence of our souls gives us goodness,” he added.

About 250 people were on hand for the Grand Chanukah Klezmer Festival at Centennial Park. The afternoon was a miracle in itself as the predicted rain stayed away. The Freilach Band with Natalia and Boris created a festive atmosphere.

Rabbi thanked the law enforsement officers present saying, “You are the epitome of good and sacrifice.”

Venice Mayor Ron Feinsod called Venice an all inclusive community and U.S. Rep. Greg Steube talked about a return trip to Israel possibly with Rabbi Schmerling which drew a smile.

People lined up to purchase various foods. A children’s area gave children a chance to build a Lego Menorah.

Auschwitz survivor Helga Melmed lit the Shamash-Menorah with the help of Rabbi Schmerling and Venice Police Chief Tom Mattmuller. After the lighting and prayers the crowd burst into singing and dancing to music like “Halva Nagela.”

The afternoon was a celebration of Chanukah and all that is good in Venice.

Sew much fun

On Feb. 1 at Maxine Barritt Park, join the Sarasota Modern Quilt Guild for their annual “Airing of the Quilts” outdoor quilt display and sale. The park is located south of Sharky’s.

Visit veniceheritage.org or call 941-237-0478 to purchase tickets for one of the Trolley Tours of Venice. They are at 10 a.m. and noon on Feb 1.

And, stop at the Venice Community Center on Feb. 1-2 for the spectacular annual Orchid Show.

Some of our best

The special people of this week are the students of the Chabad of Venice Hebrew School of the Arts. Their joyful singing and cheerful attitude gave the Chanukah celebration at Centennial Park a warm smile.

Whenever a group of children perform in a chorus, it’s fun to see the different personalities emerge. Some singers like to shout out the words, some fuss with their costumes, some look around for direction and others just stand and look good. This describes the Chabad students who led the singing of “Light Up The Street” and “I Have a Dreidel.”

Their energy was contagious and inspired the audience to sing and clap and celebrate. These young people make Venice a great place to live.

Fran Valencic is the social columnist for the Venice Gondolier Sun. She welcomes your tips and ideas. Contact her at franvalencic@comcast.net

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