Menorah in Jackson Park gets lit for the first time in celebration of Hanukkah

·2 min read
Rabbi Sholom Galperin says the large menorah in Jackson Park shows Windsor's diversity and 'religious pride.'  (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)
Rabbi Sholom Galperin says the large menorah in Jackson Park shows Windsor's diversity and 'religious pride.' (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC - image credit)

For the first time in Windsor, an eight foot tall menorah in Jackson Park was lit in celebration of the first day of Hanukkah.

On Sunday evening, members of the local Jewish community gathered to light the first of eight candles. Rabbi Sholom Galperin, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Centre, told CBC News he was excited for this year's gathering.

His community had planned to light the large menorah in Jackson Park last year for the first time, but he said they could only livestream it as another pandemic lockdown came into effect.

That made this year's gathering all the more special.

"It's nice to have family time and do things with your family, but it's also nice and very important to have other people over," he said.

"It builds this idea of sense of community — I'm not alone."

Every year for the last decade, Galperin said the community would make a menorah out of materials that could be donated to the community, including Lego one year or coins for another. The celebration is usually held inside Devonshire Mall.

But with the ongoing pandemic, he said they thought it was best to have an outdoor gathering.

The first candle was lit with an actual flame to mark the beginning of Hanukkah, but Galperin said it was extinguished once the evening was over.

Sholom Galperin/Facebook
Sholom Galperin/Facebook

Moving forward, LED lights will be used on the menorah, which will be featured in the city's Bright Lights display.

'Show our religious pride'

Hanukkah commemorates the time when Jews went to rededicate their holy temple and wanted to light the menorah, but they only had one jug of oil.

The rest of the oil had been destroyed by the Greeks, Galperin said.

"When they found the one jug, they were planning on using it for one night, but the miracle happened and it lasted for eight days," he said, adding they didn't expect for that to happen.

Sholom Galperin/Facebook
Sholom Galperin/Facebook

"They planned for it to last for one day, which is a big lesson for our daily life is that we should not be relying on miracles to happen to us. We need to do what we need to for our part and God will then perform those miracles."

Galperin said the menorah they lit on the weekend is so large that it can be seen by people driving over the bridge on Ouellette Avenue, past the park.

"It shows Windsor as being diverse, that we can have so many different religions living in a cohesive, unified manner, and that we live in this great country that we're able to go out and show our religious pride," he said.

As for his favourite part of the holiday, Galperin said it gives him the time to pause and focus on family.

"Focus on what the real true light is: your family," he said.

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