Congregation Beth Shalom, The Center for Jewish Life in greater Stanislaus County and the Central Valley based in Modesto, has announced that they will offer public Menorah lighting events all over the region on each of the eight nights of the Chanukah holiday this year.
The first night was on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Manteca Library at 5 p.m. followed by a party at the Senior Center, the second night, Wednesday, Dec. 13, will be at McHenry Village in Modesto at 5 p.m.
On the third night, Thursday, Dec. 14, the event will be at the Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale at 7:15 p.m., followed by an adults’ gathering at Last Call Brewing. The fourth night, Friday, Dec. 15 will be at the congregation itself starting at 4:25 p.m. and also include a party and will be followed by a Latke Dinner. The fifth night, Saturday, Dec. 16 will be in downtown Modesto at 5:45 p.m. and include a full concert. The sixth night, Sunday, Dec. 17, the gathering will be at 5 p.m. at the Vintage Faire Mall promenade and will also include a live concert. The seventh night, Monday Dec. 18, will be at Tracy City Hall at 5 p.m., and the eighth and final night, Tuesday, Dec. 19 will be at 5 p.m. in Central Park in downtown Turlock at 5 p.m. followed by a party at CBS, Congregation Beth Shalom, at 8 p.m. with a final full concert. The concerts will include Klezmer, Chasidic Rock, and Jam music. All of the events are free, for all ages, rain or shine, and will feature the lighting of a five-foot tall Menorah, holiday songs and distributing holiday treats.
Chanukah, meaning “dedication”, is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates religious freedom; it dates back to more than 2,175 years ago. The main observance of the holiday is the lighting of candles shortly after sunset. The tradition is to light the Chanukiah, or Chanukah Menorah (candelabrum), to publicize the miraculous story of the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabees. According to the Talmud, a small jar of oil, with only enough oil for one night, lasted eight days allowing for new consecrated oil to be prepared for the Temple’s Menorah. The holiday is also known as the Festival of Lights.
The holiday follows the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. Chanukah always coincides with the new moon falling near the winter solstice.
According to Rabbi Shalom Bochner, who serves as the spiritual leader for the congregation, “We celebrate Chanukah at the darkest nights of the year, literally, by adding more light. We are delighted to travel all over the region to let Jews and non-Jews experience this sweet and ancient holiday. Chanukah is just a minor holiday, but it has a wonderful positive message of hope for everyone.”