Chabad of Baton Rouge will host its annual public menorah celebration, marking the first night of Hanukkah, at 4 p.m. Sunday on the steps of the State Capitol.
“The lighting of the menorah at the State Capitol building is a wonderful symbol of the religious diversity that is the hallmark of Louisiana and of this great country,” said Rabbi Peretz Kazen. “We are honored to once again be working with Sen. JP Morrell and his staff to put on this celebration.”
The free event includes hot latkes, matza ball soup, traditional sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts), a train ride and face painting for youngsters and a gelt (chocolate coins) drop.
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, concludes on Dec. 30. It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian-Greeks, who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom, said Kazen. The would-be conquerors also desecrated and defiled the temple and the oil prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service, the rabbi said.
"Upon recapturing the temple, only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight," Kazen said. "In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness."
Chabad of Baton Rouge offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and people of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact Kazen at (225) 267-7047 or Rabbi@chabadbr.com.