Members of the Jewish faith will once again gather to celebrate Hanukkah in Gainesville as Chabad Jewish Center of Hall County hosts its second annual public menorah lighting.
The Jewish holiday, known as the Festival of Lights, starts the evening of Sunday, Dec. 18, and ends the evening of Dec. 25.
The 9-foot menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil as second century Jews recovered their religious freedom and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Seleucid Greek empire.
The menorah lighting is slated for 4:30 p.m. Dec. 18 on the Gainesville square.
“I feel it makes the menorah lighting part of Gainesville, and makes it connected to the city with it being downtown,” said Rabbi Nechemia Gurevitz, director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Hall County. “It's going to bring joy and happiness to everybody on the square.”
The Chabad Jewish Center of Hall County is part of an international movement of Jewish centers aimed to spread the joy of Judaism to members of the Jewish faith who live in areas where there isn’t a major Jewish community, according to Gurevitz.
“In Hall County there isn't a large Jewish community, but there are Jewish people, and we're here to give them those services and those experiences which they may not experience otherwise,” Gurevitz said.
Since last year’s menorah lighting, the first of its kind in the area, Gurevitz said the Chabad has met many Hall County residents who are either actively practicing Judaism or reconnecting to the heritage and traditions passed down by their parents.
The upcoming ceremony will open with the lighting of the menorah, followed by refreshments of doughnuts and latkes, a traditional fried potato pancake.
“The idea is that both donuts and these latkes are fried in oil because one of the central themes of Hanukkah is the miracle of oil,” Gurevitz said.
Gurevitz encourages members of the Jewish community and beyond to attend the event and “experience this message of freedom.”
“The idea of sharing light, something which is universal to all humans, and how one city can have celebrations of so many different cultures and diversity — I think that's just a beautiful component to the makeup of the city,” he said. “It's also being done in a way that we're inviting everyone, so I think it's really a message of unity of freedom, which is only possible when you have unity and tolerance.”For more information on the Chabad Jewish Center of Hall County or to RSVP to the menorah lighting, visit.jewishhall.com/chanukah.