WAXHAW, NC – On Tuesday, December 15, friends and neighbors gathered around the large menorah in Downtown Waxhaw for Chanukah. Homemade latkes and doughnuts, music, kids crafts, and more met the revelers before the Menorah was lit. Rabbi Yisrael Levin of the Ballantyne Jewish Center led the service and was introduced by Waxhaw Mayor, Ron Pappas. Mayor Pappas spoke about the extraordinary year 2020 has been and how happy he is to see everyone come together to support each other this year and for the holidays. Rabbi Levin spoke about the shamash (“attendant”) candle, how it rises above the other candles as a leader, and how we can be leaders in 2021.
Many neighbors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, came to celebrate. Waxhaw resident Anna Ross and Charlotte resident Kaleb Hobel both enjoyed the ceremony. Ross has attended for four years and brought Hobel with her this year. “The ceremony is always beautiful, but the donuts and latkes are amazing!” said Ross. Waxhaw resident Rebecca Tarleton attended the Menorah Lighting for the first time this year. “I enjoyed it! Everyone was very friendly and welcoming,” she said. Meanwhile, brothers Nathanial and Joshua just moved with their family from New York and we’re excited to be able to celebrate Chanukah in their new home. Caitlin Murphy just finished studying Chanukah in school, so she brought her family with her to see the ceremony in person. While this year looked a little different with a socially distant setup, the mood was still joyful and uplifting.
According to Chabad.org, the wintertime “festival of lights” is traditionally celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers, and fried foods. According to the Hebrew calendar, the eight-day festival begins on the eve of Kislev (the Hebrew month corresponding to November/December) 25, which generally coincides with the month of December. In 2020, Chanukah ran from December 10 through December 18. At the heart of Chanukah is the nightly menorah lighting. The shamash, or “attendant, is used to kindle the other eight flames night by night. On the first night of Chanukah, one candle is lit. On the second night, an additional flame is lit. By the eighth night of Chanukah, all eight candles on the menorah are ablaze.
The Ballantyne Jewish Center is self-described as a place “dedicated to serving all Jews throughout Ballantyne and surrounding areas with Ahavat Yisrael –unconditional love and concern for every Jew, regardless of background and affiliation.” More information about the Ballantyne Jewish Center and how to celebrate Chanukah at home can be found at https://www.jewishballantyne.com.