Edmonds celebration lights up Hanukkah

EDMONDS — The city Christmas tree danced in the breeze, almost in sync with the song echoing from the crowd of worshipers in the square outside City Hall.

“Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come to light the Menorah.

“Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the hora.”

The scene at Edmonds’ Centennial Plaza unfolded at dusk Sunday, the fifth day of Hanukkah.

Rabbi Berel Paltiel, from the Chabad Jewish Center of Snohmish County, lit five candles on a nine-foot-tall menorah.

In back of the Jewish candelabrum, a decorative Santa rode on his sleigh. Behind Santa, stood the city’s freshly decorated Christmas tree.

Mayor Dave Earling, who is Christian, said the Hanukkah celebration shows another face of Edmonds’ growing diversity.

“They invited me and I’m just glad to be here,” Earling said. “I’m delighted to see the size of the gathering.”

The crowd for the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting a day earlier had been much larger: an estimated 2,000. Sunday’s crowd, by comparison, numbered in the range of 60. The dusk-time festivities included the ritual menorah lighting, as well as jelly donuts and generous dashes of humor.

In the crowd were congregants from Edmonds’ Westgate Chapel, who were honoring the Jewish roots of their Christian faith.

“I’m really excited that Edmonds is having our Jewish believers and its Christian believers in the same square,” said Gina Messenger, who attends Westgate.

Paltiel leads the local Chabad Center of Snohomish County. This was the second Hanukkah celebration the center has conducted in Edmonds.

“Hanukkah has a universal message and I think the menorah is a universal symbol,” Paltiel said.

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday that usually begins in December. This year, it began on the evening of Nov. 27 and ends Thursday.

The festival commemorates events from more than 2,100 years ago, following the Maccabees military victory over a vastly superior army. When the Jewish victors rededicated their Temple, a one-day supply of oil miraculously burned for eight days.

“All Jewish holidays really boil down to the same thing: They tried to kill us and we won. Let’s eat,” said Laurence Schwarz, 46, who lives north of Edmonds.

Paltiel, speaking to the crowd Sunday night, urged everyone to perform a good deed in the spirit of Hanukkah after they returned home: “This bit of light has the ability to chase away a vast amount of darkness.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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