Menorah Lighting
Members of the Upshur County community join Daya Wright (center in blue) to recite a menorah lighting blessing in Jawbone Park during the city's first-ever Menorah Lighting in 2018. / File photo

City’s second annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony set for 6 p.m. Friday

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon’s second annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20 at Jawbone Park.

Local attorney Daya Masada Wright said last year was the first time city officials hosted the celebration in the wake of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa., which left 11 people dead.

“We donated and we purchased a menorah for the city many years ago, and it’s just been quietly sitting in Jawbone Park on an annual basis, and last year following the Tree of Life massacre, Mayor McCauley reached out and suggested that the city be more overt about our diversity here,” Wright said. “We hosted the first annual lighting, and it was really well-attended, and it was a very special event for my family and the small Jewish community here in Buckhannon.”

She said Chanukah begins Sunday, Dec. 22 this year, but the lighting will happen ahead of that date on Dec. 20.

“I’ll be telling the Chanukah story and will be lighting the menorah, which is a nine-candle candelabra, and we’ll say the prayer in English and in Hebrew for the lighting,” Wright said. “It should be a really a short event, 15 minutes and then I’ll have dreidels and directions to play the game.”

Wright explained dreidels are four-sided tops used to play a game for Chanukah.

“The dreidel game is usually played with pennies, nuts or gelt (chocolate money),” Wright explained. “All of the players put one coin into the middle, “the pot.” The first player spins his or her dreidel. If the dreidel lands on ש (shin), the player must put one-coin in. ה (hay) means that the player gets half the pot. ג (gimel) means that the player gets the whole pot and נ (nun) means that the player does nothing. The turn then passes to the next player. The winner is the player with the most coins!”

She said Chanukah begins at sundown Dec. 22 and lasts for eight consecutive nights. Including lighting the menorah and the dreidel game, Wright said there are foods that are enjoyed during the holiday, including latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts).

“Buckhannon is making a concerted effort not just to tolerate diversity but to embrace diversity,” Wright said. “This is one of many events throughout the year. For example, there’s also the Martin Luther King reading that we had last year in January. I know there’s some events planned for March as well to celebrate other diverse topics here in Upshur County, so all are welcome.”

Wright also sent My Buckhannon the official story of Chanukah. It appears in full below:

‘The Story of Chanukah, The Festival of Lights

“Long, long ago, Alexander the Great was the wise ruler of Judea. All of the people lived in harmony under his guidance.

But after Alexander died, he was replaced by the evil King Antiochus (a Greek king ruling from Syria). King Antiochus believed that everyone should think and act just like he did. He chased the Jewish people out of their villages and homes. He destroyed their Temples.

Mattathias was a brave Jewish man (from the village of Modin) with five brave sons. They formed an army called the Maccabees, which means “the hammer.”

The Maccabees were a small army with very few weapons. But they fought long and hard against King Antiochus. And they won! After a three-year battle, (in 165 BCE) they chased the Greek army out of their villages and homes.

But when the Maccabees went to clean up the Temples, they found that the Greeks had extinguished the Ner Tamid, the eternal light. And worst of all, there was only a tiny bit of olive oil to fill the lamp, only enough for one day. So, the Maccabees lit the Ner Tamid and started to make new oil for the lamp.

It was then that the miracle occurred. The little lamp with only enough oil for one day burned brightly for eight days – giving the Jewish people hope and renewing their faith.

That is why we have Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

We celebrate Chanukah to remember the brave Maccabees and the little oil lamp that burned brightly for eight long days.

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