A group of people, some holding candles, sang and looked on as lights on a 12-foot tall menorah flickered Sunday evening in Riverfront Park.
Chabad of Spokane’s annual menorah lighting was held in downtown Spokane Sunday during a light snowfall. Rabbi Yisroel Hahn and members of his congregation arrived in a parade of cars topped with menorahs.
Hahn opened the event by reminding everyone to physically distance and wear masks along with asking everyone to opt in to COVID-19 contact tracing via the Spokane County Regional Health District.
Then Hahn said a few words about celebrating Hanukkah during the pandemic.
“Our job is to go out into the night and bring light and warm, even in a very cold night. Our job is to light up the night. There’s never been a time in my life where this message is more important,” Hahn said. “The way we light the night is by inspiring ourselves, by lighting our own world.”
Hanukkah is also called the festival of lights. Celebration began last Thursday and ends Friday.
Mayor Nadine Woodward said her first Hanukkah celebration was made extra special by holding it in Riverfront Park. Woodward then took a moment to encourage attendees to continue being “the light in someone’s world” despite the coming struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Festival of Lights is about resiliency. It’s about faith. It’s about light in darkness. And I think those are things that we’ve all relied on this year, during the most challenging time that most of us have ever experienced, this global health pandemic,” Woodward said. “I encourage all of you to try to be that light in someone’s world.”
Woodward then held a Tiki torch for attendees to light their own smaller candles.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers also encouraged attendees to support each other during this time.
“This has been an extremely difficult year with the fear and the uncertainty. And this is a time for us to shine the light with acts of resiliency, with encouragement with meeting the needs in our in our neighborhoods and our community,” McMorris Rodgers said. “So as we as we light this candle tonight, let’s continue throughout the days and the weeks ahead to continue to be those lights in our community.”
McMorris Rodgers climbed to the top of the waiting ladder and lit the first candle on the menorah.
Rabbi Hahn took over lighting the final candles before speaking again to attendees.
“The way we light the world is by acts of goodness and kindness while inspiring another person to do a mitzvah, the mitzvah represents this fire,” Hahn said. “And just like fire is infinite, when we do acts of goodness and kindness, their power is infinite. It snowballs.”
After the lighting of the menorah, attendees chatted and ate individually packaged donuts.
Juliane and Ted Adams are members of the Chabad congregation and have been missing their friends during the pandemic. Sunday’s event was a welcome chance to be with fellow Jews, Juliane said.
Juliane said she feels there has been more anti-Semitism recently. Rabbi Hahn says when there is more anti-Semitism “we need to be more Jewish,” Juliane said. “We can’t let people intimidate Jews … we can’t let them win,” she said.
For her husband, Ted, attending the event was a chance to share the light he has during what has been a dark year.
“2020 was a dark time, the pandemic and such,” he said. “So it’s important for me to be able to come out and join you and others in sharing the light that I have.”