Lighting darkness: Hanukkah celebrations to be held in Parkdale Park

Three people light up a giant menorah.
A giant menorah is lit in Parkdale Park in Dec. 2022. File Photo by Charlie Senack.

By Charlie Senack

For the third year in a row, a giant menorah will light up Kitchissippi during the eight days of Hanukkah.

A community Menorah lighting will be held at Parkdale Park on Dec. 10 beginning at 4:00 p.m. It is the third year the Chabad Jewish Centre is hosting celebrations in Wellington West. Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, councillor Jeff Leiper, and other dignitaries will be in attendance. New this year, an ice sculpture will also be part of the event.

“Every year our Hanukkah celebrations are continuing to grow in size. Last year hundreds of people showed up and we are expecting an even bigger crowd this year,” said Rabbi Moshe Caytak. “For the first time this year, the menorah will remain in Parkdale Park for the entire duration of Hanukkah. The city of Ottawa encouraged us to leave it for the community to celebrate with us.”

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.

While Hanukkah always is one of the holiest times on the Jewish calendar, this year’s celebrations are more meaningful than usual as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to show no signs of stopping.

“There is a rise in antisemitism in an unprecedented way, worse than we’ve seen since the Holocaust. Globally there are a lot of hate crimes happening, even in our own community,” said Caytak. “Hanukkah is an opportunity to remind ourselves that light, freedom, and liberty overcomes darkness and hate. Justice will prevail in the darkness. That’s the message of Hanukkah.”

An increased police presence will be on hand at the menorah lighting ceremony to ensure everyone’s safety.

On Dec. 14, a second Hanukkah event catered to families and young children will be held at the Hintonburg Community Centre beginning at 5:30 p.m. Caytak said it will be an opportunity to teach the younger generation about the significance of the holiday. Information booths will be set up and food will be provided.

Dignitaries hold menorahs and pose for a photograph.
Community dignitaries at Wellington West Hanukkah celebrations in Dec. 2022. File Photo by Charlie Senack.

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