Winding up to light the candles for Hanukkah celebration next week

Rabbi Wineberg, taken five years ago. Courtesy of the Vancouver Lubavitch Centre.
Rabbi Wineberg, taken five years ago. Courtesy of the Vancouver Lubavitch Centre.

While most of us are busy stringing up colourful lights and propping up our Christmas trees, others have visions of sufganiot and latkes dancing in their heads.

That is, doughnuts and potato pancakes, deep-fried and delicious.

They’re part of the Hanukkah tradition and are just some of the treats that will be served at this year’s 20th annual Vancouver celebration that takes place on Dec. 8, the first day of Hanukkah, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

At 3 p.m. on each of the eight-day celebration, one candle of a giant, 30-plus-foot menorah — a seven-branched traditional lampstand — will be lit as part of the religious tradition that goes back 2,600 years, according to Rabbi Wineberg, who takes part in the annual event.

The origins of a candle-lit religious holiday

Hanukkah started with a “miracle,” said Malka Tchetyshov, an office assistant at the Vancouver Lubavitch Centre. There wasn’t enough oil to light the menorah but a small amount was found, which should have been only enough to light it for one day. But the menorah stayed lit for eight days, she explained.

Mounting the menorah is no easy feat

It takes two months of planning every year to get the public event underway but even just erecting the monument is an onerous affair.

“It’s very hard to do” and requires cranes and trucks, said Tchetyshov.

The menorah is the second largest in the Americas and was designed by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. The late Fred Silber funded the structure. His son Albert Silber is an integral part of the Vancouver celebration and helps with the lighting of the candles.

“We do it together with the Silber family and the community,” said Wineberg.

Celebrating a message of good over evil

This year the theme for the Vancouver event is “Paying the Light Forward,” which means spreading the message of “the triumph of good over bad and light over darkness,” said Wineberg.

It’s open to all members of the community.

“It’s a benefit for the world, it’s to make the world know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Arnold Silber.

An after party takes the celebration indoors at 5750 Oak Street where there will be live music, raffle draws and prizes as well as a dreidel contest (a traditional children’s game).

On Dec. 9 there will be a Hanukkah menorah car parade that will feature lit menorahs on top of cars driving along Vancouver streets and finishing at the Vancouver Art Gallery on West Georgia Street.

Reported by Bronwyn Scott

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