Vacaville, CA’s downtown Christmas tree will have some company next week, when a 10-foot tall menorah is added to the scenery.
For the first time in Solano County, there will be a public Hanukkah celebration. Menorah on Main, hosted by the Chabad of Solano County, is set for Dec. 13 in Town Square, where three menorah candles will be lighted by Mayor Len Augustine.
“I’m not sure what to do, so I guess we’ll see what it’s all about,” said Augustine, adding that he is not Jewish but glad he was asked to join in the ceremony.
“I participate in other events for churches and I think this is a good thing for the community. We’re very fortunate in Vacaville to have strong faith-based organizations, especially in times of need. It’s good that different religions can express their views.”
The menorah, with one light turned on each night, will be on display in downtown the Friday before the celebration, then the menorah will be moved to Town Square for the Sunday celebration.
After the ceremony, the menorah will return to its spot to the right of the Christmas tree at the Three Flags Monument, behind a fence at the entrance to Main Street, where lights will replace the candles and will stay on until the end of Hanukkah.
“It’s a historic time and a turning point for all of Solano County,” said Rabbi Chaim Zaklos, director and spiritual leader of Chabad of Solano County. “It shows that we’re proud to be Jewish and proud to be an American. It’s very American to do something like this.”
Relatively new, Chabad of Solano County started in September and is one of 4,000 Jewish organizations in the world. Although Hanukkah is usually celebrated among families in their homes, Zaklos said this celebration will give them the chance to publicly celebrate their values and be thankful for their miraculous historic victories.
Zaklos explained that Hanukkah commemorates an event more than 21 centuries ago, when the Holy Land was ruled by the Syrian-Greeks, who sought to forcefully make the people of Israel adopt Greek ideas and customs.
Explained on the organization’s Web site how a small band of faithful Jews known as the Maccabees, against all odds, defeated one of the mightiest armies on Earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.
When they sought to light the temple’s menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.
“It’s a great miracle of how such a small group was victorious. And how a lot can be done with a little,” he said.
According to Zaklos, the group has received the proper fire permits, which will allow visitors of the ceremony to light their own candle during the ceremony.
“It symbolizes that the light is growing,” he said. “And much like we’ll add to the light, we should constantly be adding goodness and joy to our community.”
Children’s arts and crafts, hot latkes, doughnuts, dreidels, chocolate gelt and a visit by Kelly the Clown will also be in Town Square during the event.
For more information, visit JewishSolano.com