By Charlie Senack
A giant menorah will light up Parkdale Park as part of this year’s Hanukkah celebrations in Wellington West.
On Dec. 19, members of the public are invited to join in on the celebrations, scheduled to take place at 366 Parkdale Ave, beginning at 5:30 p.m. This is the second year the Chabad Jewish Centre will be hosting a menorah lighting in the community.
“Last year we had a public menorah lighting at the Osgoode properties and it was a tremendous success,” said organizer Rabbi Moshe Caytak.
“The crowd really overflowed the property, so this year we decided we had to do something bigger and better,” he added. “It’s actually the first time a public menorah lighting will be on city property in Wellington West and we are already getting a huge response.”
The Chabad Jewish Centre opened in a historic home at 166 Huron Ave. N, earlier this year. The idea for a local centre came after the Jewish Youth Library of Ottawa ran out of space at the Chaya Mushka Building on Switzer Avenue.
When the house came up for sale, the local group saw it as a way to further expand its presence in the community. Rosh Hashanah services were held at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in September, followed by Yom Kippur services in early October. It also hosts one-on-one teaching sessions and dinners.
The word “Hanukkah,”or its traditional spelling “Chanukah”, means “dedication” in Hebrew. This holiday begins on the 25th of the Kislev month on the Hebrew calendar — typically falling in November or December. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, linked to the lighting of the menorah. One candle is added every night for eight days, accompanied by traditional foods, games and gifts.
This year’s celebrations are taking place in the year of Unity in the Jewish calendar, also known as Hakhel, a Hebrew word which means “gathering.”
In the times of the Temple, Jews would “get together and hear words of inspiration from the King in Jerusalem,” said Caytak. “It was an awe-inspiring event and that would give enough inspiration for the next seven years. Although nowadays we cannot do this, we can however get inspired and give inspiration every time we get together with others.”
Caytak said by getting together for the menorah lighting, the Jewish community will be reliving Hakhel. It’s one of 15,000 menorah lightings that will take place worldwide this year.
The main message, Caytak said, is to not run away from darkness but to illuminate it.
“We hope that this event will inspire many to have a domino act of spreading acts of goodness and kindness,” he said.
Readers can learn more about the Chabad Jewish Centre and its Hanukkah events at Jewishww.com