Ryder Ransom, 11, holds up his candle while singing Chanukah songs at a celebration for the Festival of Lights during the fifth annual public Menorah Lighting Ceremony at the Lynwood City Hall on Dec. 26 of last year. Nearly 50 gathered to sing, eat and celebrate the third night of Chanukah. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)

Ryder Ransom, 11, holds up his candle while singing Chanukah songs at a celebration for the Festival of Lights during the fifth annual public Menorah Lighting Ceremony at the Lynwood City Hall on Dec. 26 of last year. Nearly 50 gathered to sing, eat and celebrate the third night of Chanukah. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)

Hanukkah sheds light on shared values

Jewish congregation to host two public events in observation of the holiday.

LYNNWOOD — A local Jewish congregation plans to bring the universal message of Hanukkah to the wider community with two public ceremonies.

By lighting the menorah, the Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County hopes to help kindle an appreciation for the spiritual worth of all people and our shared values as Americans. The group is calling this year’s celebration “Lights of Unity.” Two celebrations are planned, for Dec. 12 in Lynnwood and Dec. 17 in Everett.

“There’s so much more that connects us than divides us,” Rabbi Berel Paltiel said. “We really want to highlight that this year.”

It will be the center’s sixth annual menorah-lighting.

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is observed over the course of eight days. Each night, a candle is lit on the menorah, a nine-branch candelabra. The ninth candle is used to light the others.

The holiday commemorates a military conflict in the Second Century B.C., when a band of rebels known as the Maccabees overthrew a much stronger Greek army. The candles represent a one-day supply of oil that miraculously lasted the Maccabees for eight days.

“The menorah became a very known symbol,” Paltiel said. “It represents the fire of freedom. The whole Hanukkah story was people fighting for their freedom of religion, their freedom of expression.”

Hanukkah is a more festive and public occasion than other dates on the Jewish religious calendar such as Rosh Hashanah (“Jewish New Year”) and Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”).

The Dec. 12 celebration falls on the first day of Hanukkah. It’s planned for 6 p.m. outside Lynnwood City Hall, featuring a nine-foot menorah, holiday treats and a performance by the Seattle-based Klez Katz klezmer band. Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith is among the expected speakers.

Last year’s menorah-lighting in Lynnwood drew an estimated 120 people.

The Dec. 17 lighting is scheduled for 4 p.m. inside the Snohomish County administration buildings in downtown Everett. County Executive Dave Somers has been invited to light the central flame. Several activities are intended to appeal to children: an olive-press workshop, crafts, treats and menorah kits.

Leaders from the local Chabad group are making a special appeal for unity this year, in light of recent tragedies throughout the nation and world, including the mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“We’re calling it Lights of Unity because there have been so many crazy events during the past several months,” Paltiel said. “Those were events that sought to divide everybody. The light of the menorah candles represents the indestructible human spirit. We all want the same thing. We all cherish the same thing.”

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

Ceremonies

The Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County is hosting two Hanukkah ceremonies this month. Everybody is welcome.

Tuesday, Dec. 12: A public menorah-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. outside Lynnwood City Hall, 19100 44th Ave. W., Lynnwood, WA 98036. It will feature speeches, klezmer music and treats. City Hall will be open if people need to escape the elements.

Sunday, Dec. 17: Another Hanukkah celebration at 4 p.m. in downtown Everett will feature an olive-press workshop, Hanukkah crafts for children and a menorah lighting, as well as treats and menorah kits. It’s being hosted at the Snohomish County administrative buildings at 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett WA, 98201.

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