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A photo captured by reporter Beth Christian Broschart during the Menorah-lighting ceremony in Jawbone Park Sunday.

City’s growing Menorah-lighting ceremony warms hearts despite freezing temperatures

BUCKHANNON – Frigid temperatures could not dampen the spirits of the many who gathered Sunday evening to share in a special occasion.

Buckhannon-based attorney and Upshur County Board of Education member Daya Wright and her family — along with many local and not so local folks – gathered at Jawbone Park in Buckhannon Sunday night to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah with a Menorah-lighting ceremony.

Hanukkah (Chanukah) began at sundown Sunday and runs for eight nights and ends the evening of Monday, December 26, 2022.

Members of the B-U Soundwaves kicked off the event singing traditional Hanukkah songs.

Attorney and Upshur County BOE member Daya Masada Wright tells the story of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

“Jewish families all over the world will be lighting menorahs which are candelabras with nine candles, eating fried potato pancakes called latkes, eating sufganiot or jelly-filled donuts and playing the dreidel game,” Wright said.

The game of dreidel involves spinning a dreidel and either winning or losing peanuts, nuts or gelt, which is chocolate money, she said.

“When our family first purchased this Menorah, it was only the four of us who gathered in Jawbone Park to say the prayers, but since making this event public, I have been overwhelmed by the support and attendance of all of you,” Wright said. “Tonight is another reminder of how extraordinary of a town Buckhannon can be. It is a community where all can be welcomed and included and is a community where we can support one another.”

“It is a community that supports and hosts spaghetti dinners when families have large medical expenses and it is a community that fills the bleachers for our student athletes,” she added. “It is a community that celebrates our children on the stage and in the classrooms, too. It is a community that, much like the Maccabeans, is a small and mighty force. Thank you for being here.”

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner welcomed those gathered and introduced visitors from New York to ‘our little slice of heaven’ in West Virginia. Skinner said Hanukkah is just one of the many holidays celebrated this time of year.

“Did you know, between Thanksgiving and the first of the year, there are more than 30 holidays that are celebrated?” he asked. “That is pretty remarkable. So, when we say ‘Happy Holidays’ it is not a knock against Christmas. It is an acknowledgement that we celebrate all of the holidays that take place this time of the year. Some are rooted in religion – but not all of them are. This is important and this is the essence of our community, and it is what makes me proud to have the opportunity to serve all of you as mayor.”

“We are a diverse community, and we celebrate each other, and we are there for one another when things are not so good and we celebrate when things go well,” Skinner added. “And we’re celebrating really well, and this will be a tradition in our community. Thank you for the purchase of the Menorah and thank you to you and your family for organizing this and having it grow every year.”

Wright told the story of Hanukkah and explained that the candles of the Menorah stand for the days that the Temple lantern stayed lit, saying that Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. She invited those gathered to recite blessings before lighting the Menorah. She explained the lamp which contained only enough oil for one day back then, had burned brightly for eight days.

“It gave the Jewish people faith and renewed their hope,” Wright said. “This is why we celebrate Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights – to remember the brave Maccabeans, and the little lamp that burned brightly for eight long days long ago,” Wright said. Folks are encouraged to stop by or drive by and enjoy the Hanukkah Menorah, located at Jawbone Park in Buckhannon.

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