Whether you celebrate Chanukah or Thanksgivukkah or Christmas, there is an event in Detroit you cannot miss this year.
Upon this first night of the eight-day Jewish holiday, I bring you good news: The third annual Menorah in the D lighting ceremony will be a huge, free community Chanukah party. All ages, all religions, all backgrounds are invited and expected.
So pencil in 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and Campus Martius onto your calendar. On the last night of the holiday, some 1,500 people are expected to gather as the 24-foot steel Menorah is lit, people enjoy soup and sufganiot (doughnuts to the uninformed…like me), music is heard and the crowd celebrates the unique fellowship that marks any party in Detroit.
Here’s some background: Menorah in the D is a community-wide menorah lighting event planned with The Shul and the Chabad-Lubavitch Foundation of Michigan. Their partners, NEXTGen and Chabad in the “D,” are hosting the event to renew a sense of Jewish identity and add some Judaism to downtown Detroit.
Oh, and about that whole Thanksgivukkah thing: This year, U.S. Jews are subjected to a calendar quirk where Thursday merges Thanksgiving with the start of Hanukkah. The last time it happened was 1888 and the next is an estimated 79,043 years from now. Just so you know.
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov told me the overlapping holidays is fitting, considering how much there is to be thankful for not only among the Metro Detroit Jewish community – but for things in Detroit as well. Despite the negativity, the bankruptcy, the strange Packard Plant obsessions, there is something significant happening in this city, he said.
“The very idea that we have a public right to express both the message of thanksgiving and the freedom of religion is something amazing,” Rabbi Shemtov said. “(Thanksgiving and Chanukah) are both beautiful customs.”
What also is significant is that the Chanukah candles inside people’s homes are designed to stand against a window for everyone to see. These candles light the darkness for all of us, and this grand Menorah in downtown promises to do the same.
That brightness. That glow. That moment of wonder when all eight lights will come alive. It will be a poignant symbol, indeed.
“It’s been an amazing event for the past two years. There is a lot of excitement around it, and we’ve had very spirited crowds,” Rabbi Shemtov said. He expects no less this year as well.
By the way…For those looking for artists who created the 24-foot stunner, look no further than brothers Erik Nordin and Israel Nordin of Detroit Design Center in Corktown. Plans are for this Chabad menorah to be erected each year in Campus Martius/Cadillac Square for the Chanukah holiday.
Sponsors of this year’s event include Quicken Loans, Community Next, Whole Foods, the Detroit Jewish News, Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, PJ Library, Pegasus Entertainment, Printwand, PublicCity PR, Chef Cari Kosher Catering, Honigman and Aidenbaum Schloff and Bloom PLLC.
And if you need the address, here’s it is – see the Menorah at 800 Woodward Avenue, south of Grand Circus Park and north of Hart Plaza. Or check out this web address (www.menorahinthed.com) for more information.