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Let there be light: Halifax Jewish community celebrates Hanukkah at Grand Parade

‘It’s incredible to be back in person,’ says rabbi who officiated

3 min read
caption A city worker gets the big menorah ready for the annual menorah lighting, in Grand Parade in Halifax on Tuesday.
Sarah Krymalowski

Halifax’s Jewish community gathered to usher in the light at the city’s official menorah lighting on Tuesday evening.

Rabbi Mendel Feldman of the Chabad Lubovitch of the Maritimes has officiated the ceremony since the first year in 1995. He said that after the darkness of the pandemic, Hanukkah has a special meaning.

“The message is very, very powerful, that you stand strong and you share and can overcome everything with light and kindness and goodness.”

About 100 people came out on Tuesday night for the event, despite the cold. People caught up with each other and ate latkes after the ceremony. Jewish music played throughout.

caption Adam Conter attends the city’s annual menorah lighting with his family on Tuesday.
Sarah krymalowski

Adam Conter was glad to be able to attend the menorah lighting this year. He has attended the ceremony every year since it started. He has also been taking his kids since they were born.

“It’s a chance to get out with the community and it’s a chance to highlight our community in the broader Halifax,” Conter said.

Rabbi Feldman echoed this sentiment.

“Because it’s a small Jewish community, a lot of Jewish people feel such like a cultural minority … When they started the menorah at the Grand Parade square it just gave them such a boost of their Jewish pride,” he said.

Also attending were Mayor Mike Savage, Liberal Leader Iain Rankin and Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc. Premier Tim Houston was unable to attend but sent MLA Kent Smith as his representative.

The story of Hanukkah dates back to 174 BC when the Jewish people were ruled by the Seleucid Empire. The Seleucid king at the time, Antiochus IV, wanted the Jewish people in Judea to stop observing their religion and follow Greek customs.

But the people rebelled by still practising their religion in secret.

caption Rabbi Mendel Feldman surveys projected Hanukkah decorations on City Hall.
Sarah Krymalowski

Seleucid soldiers later destroyed the temple of the Jews. When Jewish soldiers fought their way back to the temple, they found only enough oil to light the sacred fire for one day.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that this small amount of oil kept the fire lit for eight days until more oil came in.

Feldman said the Hanukkah story has a lesson to teach us about the pandemic.

“The message of Hanukkah is really to share your resources and a little bit of light can defeat much darkness.”

caption Roseanne Reese-Newson says that the menorah lighting gave her an opportunity to learn about a new culture.
Sarah Krymalowski

Roseanne Reeve-Newson isn’t Jewish, but said she thinks the annual menorah lighting is important to showcase Halifax’s diversity and provide a space for people from other cultures to learn about Judaism.

For Ron Lerner, 12, the appeal is even more simple.

“To see the big Hanukkah light up. It’s really cool to take pictures and share it with my friends,” he said.

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About the author

Sarah Krymalowski

Sarah Krymalowski is a journalist with The Signal. She has a bachelors degree of Arts & Science from McMaster University where she studied...

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