BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — Members of the Upshur County community braved plunging temperatures Monday evening to gather in Jawbone Park and celebrate the lighting of the menorah and the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.
The City of Buckhannon organized the event as part of its recently established Diversity Appreciation Coalition, Buckhannon mayor David McCauley told those who huddled under the pavilions at Jawbone Park.
“All of us in our Buckhannon community are especially mindful of the recent tragedy occurring but a hundred miles from us in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed and seven others were wounded on Oct. 27, 2018, in a senseless, targeted massacre where lives were taken simply because of people practicing a religion different from the assailant,” McCauley said. “Our newly established Diversity Appreciation Coalition was spawned as a consequence of that event, the last straw as it were, to rally all of our citizens to appreciate the differences in all of us.
“We all stand here today in unity and support for our Jewish friends, and in fact, we stand here united with all people of all religions, genders, races, ethnicities, ages, handicaps, orientations and familial statuses.”
McCauley spoke of the meaning of the menorah and Chanukah, noting in particular detail some of the traditional foods, such as latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (round, jelly or custard filled donuts).
“I especially want to thank Daya Wright and her family, who acquired this beautiful menorah several years ago for annual display in our most public space, our beautiful Jawbone Park,” McCauley said. “While the menorah is primarily symbolic of the eight days of Hanukkah, it’s further symbolic of our American society’s — and our own Buckhannon community’s — acceptance, tolerance and appreciation for religious freedom and the recognition that we can worship differently one from another in a respectful, co-existing and joyous way.”
Wright told the story of the menorah, saying that when a small Jewish army known as the Maccabees reclaimed their temples from the Greeks, they found the eternal light, Ner Tamid, with only enough oil to last a single day.
“It was then that the miracle occurred,” Wright said. “The little lamp with only enough oil for one day burned brightly for eight days — giving the Jewish people hope and renewing their faith.”
She then invited those in attendance to come forward and join her in a Chanukah candle lighting blessing.
The City of Buckhannon has several holiday events planned this month. They will light the Christmas tree in Jawbone Park on Friday, after the parade, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
The city is also offering wagon rides around town every Saturday through Christmas. See details on those by clicking here.
More photos from Monday’s menorah lighting ceremony: