On November 29th, just a few days before Chanukah, Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist and his wife, along with Governor-elect Rick Scott and his wife, hosted the annual symbolic menorah lighting ceremony and Chanukah celebration at the Governor’s mansion.
Rabbi Schneur Oirechman, director of Chabad of Tallahassee, spoke at the event on the solid relationship that’s developed between Crist and the Jewish Floridians he represents as governor. Jodi Chase, president of Tallahassee Jewish Federation and a longtime supporter of Chabad also spoke warmly about Crist’s dedication to do that right thing over the popular thing, like placing the Mezuzah on his office door and hosting an annual Chanukah celebration at his home all four years of his tenancy as governor. Oirechman and Crist exchanged kind words about each other’s untiring commitment to creating a better Florida, for Jews and gentiles alike.
Governor Crist was presented with a beautiful painting of Jerusalem to be hung in the Governor’s mansion in his honor. Then Rabbi Oirechman presented Governor-elect Scott with a special Jerusalem stone mezuzah and added that he hopes to have the opportunity to visit Israel with him in the near future.
Many guests came to this special event from other parts of Florida, including Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, the Shliach to Bal Harbour and Rabbi Aaron Lipskar, director of Aleph Institute. Rabbi Sholom Lipskar spoke about the message of Chanukah and thanked Governor Crist for his help with the Kosher food programs in Florida prisons. Rabbi Lipskar told Governor elect Scott that the Shluchim of the Rebbe in Florida are his best partners to spread the light in the sunshine state and that they would be the best people to help make Florida an even better and safer place to live.
11 year-old Mendy Oirechman lit the 6-foot menorah, held up by Governor-elect Scott. Scott spoke on his willingness to continue the Governor’s menorah lighting tradition, a symbolic gesture of good faith between Florida’s political leadership and its very significant and influential Jewish population. The event was concluded with the Horah dancing to the songs of Chanukah.
The event was covered by the associated press and was widely covered by many TV stations, newspapers and websites all over Florida and beyond.