Hanukkah celebrated in West Hawaii

  • Rabbi Levi Gerlitzky, right, leads guests in Hanukkah songs after the lighting of the menorah Thursday at Lanihau Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Guests get into the Hanukkah spirit with lighted menorah glasses Thursday at Lanihau Center. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Noah Winkler tries to guess how many dreidels are in the jar at the Hanukkah menorah lighting celebration.

  • James Bond lights the menorah for the third night of Hanukkah Thursday evening at Lanihau Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

For the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah, Chabad Jewish Center of the Big Island held a public Menorah lighting in the heart of Kona at Lanihau Center Thursday evening.

The evening began with the lighting of an eight foot menorah, the largest on the Big Island. This special event was accompanied by warm latkes, donuts, music, kids crafts, dreidels distributed for the children, guess how many dreidels in the jar contest, and more.

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According to Rabbi Levi Gerlitzky, Hanukkah is a time for celebrating the freedom to openly express our values.

This menorah proclaims that message to the world.

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire over 2,000 year ago. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah). One branch is placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash (Hebrew: “attendant”). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.

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The Hanukkah Party and Menorah Lighting in Kona is just one of many events that Chabad has planned for the holiday. Info at: www.JewishbigIsland.org.

In addition, Kona Beth Shalom is holding a Hanukkah party Sunday from 4 to 7:30 pm at Hale Halawai.

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