The Congregation Etz Chaim of Merced hosted 65 people for a Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in Bob Hart Square on Sunday, Dec. 29.
The event marked the eighth and final night of the Jewish holiday.
Rabbi Shalom Bochner of Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto led the event which included songs, a brief description of the holiday, and the distribution of dreidls (tops), gelt (chocolate coins), and donuts.
Chanukah celebrates the triumph of a tiny band of freedom fighters who conquered a huge and highly trained military. After the battle, the Jewish people lit the sacred oil in their synagogue. While it should only have lasted one night, it miraculously burned for eight nights, which is why the holiday is celebrated for that length of time.
The donuts (in Hebrew “sufganiyot”) symbolize the miracle of the oil since they are fried in oil.
For those who like to plan ahead, the event will be held again on Thursday, Dec. 17.
Mark your 2020 calendars!