December 14, 2006
Can public menorah lighting ceremonies pull in unaffiliated Jews?
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"This is the Cadillac of candlelightings," said Chabad of the Valley's associate director Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder, noting that myriad people, both religious and nonreligious Jews, have been touched by the event.
In Davenport, Iowa, where the Jewish population is estimated to be about 800 people in the metropolitan four-city area, up to 125 people are expected at Chabad of the Quad Cities' second annual "Chanukah on Ice" celebration, featuring the lighting of a six-foot-high ice menorah at a local sports arena.
"We light candles in a public place to show people and remind people of the miracle that happened then," said Chabad's Rabbi Shneur Cadaner, adding that one or two new people coming to such an event is significant in a small community.
For many, that public reminder can have a positive effect.
Houston resident Jay Hamburger, who has been on a self-admitted search for spirituality most of his life, has attended most of Chabad of Houston's public lightings since his daughter was born 11 years ago.
"There's something different about a public lighting. The menorah is bigger, physically and symbolically," he said. "It illumines my path back to my heritage."
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