RIVERSIDE – A menorah lighting, music, food and the introduction of Riverside’s new mayor are planned Monday for the Chabad Jewish Community Center’s eighth annual Hanukkah Festival.
Several hundred people are expected to attend the event, slated to begin at around 6 p.m. on the steps of the Riverside Historic Courthouse, 4050 Main St.
Rabbi Shmuel Fuss, Chabad’s executive director, said the celebration highlights themes deeply rooted in the world’s oldest documented religion.
”Chanukah enriches our lives with the light of tradition,” Fuss said. ”In ancient times, our ancestors rededicated the temple and rekindled hope. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place.”
According to the rabbi, a 12-foot menorah will be lit at around 7 p.m. to signify the start of the third night of Hanukkah, which spans eight days.
Outgoing Mayor Ron Loveridge, leaving the office after 18 years, will ceremoniously pass the torch to light the menorah to incoming Mayor Rusty Bailey, who prevailed in the Nov. 6 general election. Bailey will be officially sworn in the following day.
Vendors will be on hand selling Hanukkah-themed gifts, and there will be a variety of treats, including potato latkes and matzo ball soup.
Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C.
Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist forces of Antiochus IV at the end of a three-year rebellion, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was rededicated by Judah Maccabee, who led the insurgency begun by his father, the high priest Mattathias.
According to the story of Hanukkah, Maccabee and his soldiers wanted to light the temple’s ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of their rededication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil, however, burned for eight days in what was held to be a miracle. Hanukkah — which means dedication in Hebrew — is observed around the world by lighting candles in a special menorah called a Hanukiah each day at sundown. The lights are lit so that passers-by can see them and be reminded of the holiday’s miracle.