BUCKHANNON – The annual lighting of the menorah will return to Buckhannon after a hiatus due to COVID-19.
During the most recent Consolidated Public Works Board meeting, Daya Masada-Wright asked for an official lighting ceremony to take place Dec. 18.
“In the year 2014, our family bought a municipal menorah and the city allowed us to post it in Jawbone Park for the majority of the month of December,” she said. “It was put out in 2014, 15, 16 and 17 without any fanfare … Following the 2018 Tree of Life massacre, my family made a decision to be a little more overt about the inclusivity of our wonderful town, so we had an actual menorah lighting. The then-mayor came and spoke, the city advertised it on their Facebook page, and we had a turnout of about 35 people.”
The public lighting was held again in 2019 with an increase in attendance to 72 people, but the public ceremony was not done in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID.
“It was actually quite lovely,” Wright said. “People contacted my office for the whole month of December both of those years because they were worried they missed it. They still put the menorah out, but we just didn’t have a public event. The time has arrived for Hanukkah, and all Jewish holidays work on a lunar calendar, so this year it begins at sundown on December 18, at 7 p.m. I’m asking the city’s permission to not just place the menorah out this year but to have another public lighting.”
Wright asked for use of Jawbone Park for the event and invited Mayor Robbie Skinner to speak.
“I thought the mayor speaking was really nice and helpful,” Wright said. “It’s not a religious event, it’s an inclusivity event. I tell the Hanukkah story while leaving God out of it, we light the menorah, and then the few years that we’ve had it, I have treats for the children, and sometimes other people bring latkes. I am guessing 50 people may come, and that’s based on the difference between 30 people the first year and 70 people the second year.”
Skinner said he would like to resume holding this event and the motion passed unanimously.
“I really appreciate it,” Wright told the public works board. “I actually visit most of the elementary schools in the month of December. I buy a lot of dreidels and I always tell the littles that we’re going to have the big lighting and about the big menorah. Last year 100 kids came and visited it on a school trip even though there wasn’t a public event at the time, so I think the menorah is very well received and I’m very grateful for this city’s inclusivity.”