Local Jewish Community Celebrates Start Of Hanukkah
WILKES-BARRE — A large group of teenagers danced and sang along South River Street just after sundown on Sunday as local members of the Jewish community gathered to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.
A pair of rabbis, David Kaplan and Zvi Perlman, lit the first Hanukkah candle outside the Jewish Community Center and led the group in prayer and songs.
They also encouraged the participation of the teens, from the Bais Menachem Youth Development Program.
Rabbi Uri Perlman said he enjoyed the excitement of his students.
“We want to celebrate the holiday with life and spirit, and that’s what young people have in abundance,” Perlman said.
The teens were slated to spend Sunday night visiting elderly people of the Jewish faith in nursing homes, he said.
Hanukkah celebrates the successful revolution of the ancient Jews against oppressive rulers who had threatened to wipe out Jewish religious practices. It commemorates the victory of the Jews in 165 B.C.E.
A small Jewish army fought against great odds to regain possession of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Jews re-dedicated the Holy Temple and celebrated for eight days.
Members of the faith will light a new candle or light every night through next Sunday, the final day of Hanukkah. The Jewish Community Center is hosting a community dinner next week to mark the occasion.
Kaplan said the holiday, often called the festival of lights, can help bring light back to the Jewish community that is still mourning the murders of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October.
“The lights we light this year are specifically not only for ourselves but to mitigate the darkness that was brought to our world,” Kaplan said. “The Jewish soul can be metaphorically represented by a single light. So for the 11 lights that were extinguished in Pittsburgh, I ask everyone when they light this year to please rekindle not only for yourself and your families, but universally our world. Our world needs that light back.”
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