It is hard not to think of holiday images that have stood the test of time and sit in our collective minds … the lights and the spiritual messages that transcend religious boundaries. One of those is the menorah.
Tonight (December 16) on the first night of Chanukah, the 24-ft. Menorah will be lite at Campus Martius. The ceremony begins at 5:00 p.m. and everyone is invited to attend “Menorah in the D.” It has meaning for all of us.
The menorah is seen as a beacon of hope to the people of a city in difficult times. It stems back to a time when the Jews, led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, revolted against the Greeks, who controlled the land and had desecrated the temple. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.
According to Jewish history as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks. Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple and it needed to burn throughout each night for eight days. There was only enough oil to burn for one day, but a miraculously it burned for all eight. Chanukah commemorates that miracle.
Chanukah is a holiday of pride for the Jewish people with menorahs displayed in home windows. The 24-ft.-tall Menorah in Campus Martius not only represents that pride also represents their connections to the Detroit community.
Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, who organized the event, says Chanukah is about pure oil and the jug of pure oil is within all of our souls. We “have the power to light the world around us … lighting with hope and light” and to take that light out into the public square. With the bankruptcy behind us and our city’s transformation continuing that is the right message for all us.
The Rabbi is proud not only to be a part of the lighting itself, but also to be able to share the message of Chanukah with everyone. It is an inclusive event … very much like we need to be in our city if we are to continue its revitalization.
Now on the ceremony’s fourth year, more people are showing up. Only a few hundred turned out to see the menorah lit up the first year, but last year more than 2,000 attended. If the social media indication means anything, this year will be just as large… if not more so.
Mayor Mike Duggan and Senator-elect Gary Peters, along with other members of the political world, will be there. Also added to the schedule this year is a concert by SoulFarm and light refreshments. Here are some of the goodies available in the food court:
- Hot Cider provided by Blakes Orchard & Cider Mill
- Hot Soup Bar provided by Chef Cari Kosher Catering
- Traditional Chanukah Doughnuts (Sufganiot) and all-time favorite sprinkle cookies provided by Bake Station
- Assorted healthy snacks provided by Whole Foods
- Marshmallow Roasting
You can also see Detroit Tigers Mascot Paws, color and chalk on a gigantic dreidel, dancing dreidels, a picture station and lots more.
This year also marks a major milestone for menorah lightings. Forty years ago the first public menorah lighting was performed in Philadelphia. Today every major city in the country has one. Even overseas has caught on with a menorah lit at the Eifel Tower.
Local artists the Nordin brothers of the Detroit Design Center designed the Detroit menorah.
The lighting is hosted by The Shul of West Bloomfield along with the Chabad Lubavitch Community Center. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s NEXTGen Detroit division and Chabad in the D will provide around 100 volunteers. Generous support from Quicken Loans and other sponsors was another major contribution.
For more information on Menorah in the D, please visit www.menorahinthed.com