December is a time to celebrate. For the Jewish people, it is right now because this week is Hanukkah, which began last Sunday and continues this Sunday. For the first time, 26 local Jewish organizations have decided to get together and hold a public celebration this Sunday in front of City Hall in Schenectady. They call it Hanukkah on Jay.
“For many years, Chabad has hosted public lighting of the menorah in different styles,” said Rabbi Zalman Simon, co-director of the Bethlehem Chabad in Delmar. “This takes it to the next level as a joint information dissemination event. This is on a grander scale. “
Schenectady was chosen not only because it was a good location for outdoor events, but also because J Street was so charming, he said.
The Menorah is a candlestick with eight branches. Each day of Hanukkah, one of the “candles” is lit. All eight will be lit by Sunday. A 12-foot-high menorah will be built for this festival, but will be removed at the end of the event.
“We have a vision that there will be a bigger menorah in the future,” Simon said.
The reason why this festival, which is also called the Festival of Lights, has eight days, is more than 2000 years old. In 139 BC. The Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids, the Syrian Greeks. They demanded that the Jews adopt Greek culture and worship their gods. The Jews refused, and although they were poorly armed, they were led by Judas Maccabee, and they drove the Seleucids from the land.
When they returned the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they found that olive oil was only enough to light the temple menorah for one day. Miraculously, the menorah burned for eight days. Hanukkah celebrates that long-standing victory. (By the way, George Frideric Handel wrote the oratorio Judas Maccabee, recently performed by Saratoga Voices, which details this struggle.)
But the creation of this festival, which also carries the message that a little light can rid the world of a lot of darkness, was inspired by a similar festival in Detroit called the Menorah in D. Celebrating its eleventh season, the festival has set up a huge copper menorah in a park in downtown Detroit. Rabbi Zalman said he had heard of the festival, but the president of the Jewish Federation of New York, Rob Kovacs, had not. He learned about this from a local community leader who visited Detroit last year and went to the festival. Kovacs said he thought it was a great idea and called Rabbi Zalman, who also serves on the Federation’s board, and told him, “Let’s do it.”
“The Jewish community is very active, so it is not a bad thing to involve twenty-six organizations (temples, schools and centers for the elderly) in it,” said Kovacs.
In addition to the menorah, there will also be quizzes, candle or card making, photo booths and gift box decorations, hot popcorn, potato pancakes called latkes, hot apple cider, nine donuts and a band that will also play Hanukkah tunes. as favorite trendy numbers from the male group Maccbeats a cappella.
But most of all will be the illusionist Ilan Smith, who is touring the United States from his home in South Africa. Among other magical moments, Smith creates breathtaking card tricks. (Go to YouTube and you will be shocked.)
Smith discovered illusory art at the age of 8, and then “seriously” at the age of 13, found a teacher. Inspiration came from two of South Africa’s greatest magicians: George Moss and Graham Kirk. By the age of 16, Smith was selling his shows and entertaining adults. However, being practical, Smith graduated in economics and marketing. It was then that he came up with the idea to put them together.
“Using my business ideas and passion for the art of illusion, I have created business conversations and workshops to help corporations,” Smith said in an email.
He touches on topics such as how to make sure companies are trying to solve the right problems creatively by thinking like an illusionist; how to really look at motivation; and protection against social engineering or the science behind human hacking.
Although the event takes place outdoors, Smith said he won’t feel the cold.
“I will be on the show with my adrenaline, blood flow and have a great time,” he said. “From a magical point of view, illusions just drop the jaw.”
Among the many visits he makes to this country are several Chabads – community groups that serve all Jews. It was during some of his Zoom sessions that Rabbi Zalman and others discovered him.
“We thought that if he looked good on Zoom, he would be better off personally,” said Rabbi Zalman.
Even though the festival will only last two hours and will take place in the rain, sunny weather or snow, it will be completely filled with things to see, hear and do, and the parking is free and spacious.
“We are very happy to be there,” said Rabbi Zalman.
Hanukkah on Jay
WHEN: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Sunday, December 5th.
WHERE: Opposite City Hall, Schenectady
HOW MUCH: Free
READ MORE: www.chanukahonjay.com
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Art