By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF
Chabad-Lubavitch, the Hassidic Jewish congregation and umbrella organization that serves as an outreach to all Jewish communities throughout the world, will host its annual giant menorah-lighting ceremony on the last night of the eight-day Chanukah festival, Sunday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at Mexico City’s Ángel de Independencia statue.
The event, which is open to all, is a Chabad tradition that reflects the triumph of light and justice over darkness and evil, which is at the core of the Chanukah story.
The candle-lighting will be overseen by Chabad Rabbi Yossef Mayzlesh and attended by Mexican government and city officials, international diplomats and members of the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Mexico.
There will also be a clown show for the children, sufganiyot jelly donuts, latke potato pancakes, dreidel spinning tops and chocolate gelt candies.
“The menorah serves as a symbol of freedom and the right of every person to practice his or her religion, free from restraint and persecution,” explained Rabbi Mayzlesh.
The Mexico menorah lighting is part of the worldwide Hanukkah campaign, an initiative launched by Chabad in 1973.
Worldwide, more than 15,000 giant menorah-lighting ceremonies are sponsored by Chabad each year in more than 100 countries, including in front of the White House, Eiffel Tower and Kremlin.
The ceremony is intended to convey the message of Chanukah to all people, highlighting and encouraging the central theme of the holiday, the story of the Hanukkah miracle.
“The message of Hanukkah is the message of light,” said Mayzlesh.
“The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness. Even a small amount of light can dispel a great deal of darkness.”
Every act of goodness is an act of light, he said.
“That is very much the story of Chanukah, when a handful of people came together to triumph over the darkness and to show how love can overpower hate and good can conquer evil.”
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Chanukah marks the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple 2,300 years ago in Judea.
It likewise commemorates the miracle of the oil, because, although there was only enough oil in the temple at that time to last for one night, the candelabra burned for eight straight days.
Once the temple was rededicated, the Jews were liberated and were able to again practice their religion in the manner that they used to, Mayzlesh said.
“Consequently, Chanukah is not just connected to Judaism,” he said. “It is a universal holiday.”
Mayzlesh said that, the liberation of the temple wasn’t just a victory for the Jewish religion because it gave everyone the right to express their spirituality in their own way.
“Chanukah celebrates freedom of religion in general,” he said.
“The Jewish people decided to commemorate Chanukah with lights to symbolize light overcoming darkness. Light has always given hope to the world, and light will overcome darkness in every generation.”
Traditionally, on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, Jewish families gather together to light a special candelabrum known as a menorah, with one extra candle added each consecutive evening.
A single shamash guardian candle is used to light the other eight.
The menorah is then placed in a windowsill or near the doorway to share the candlelight with passersby and to make the miracle public.
The symbol of oil is also incorporated into holiday festivities with traditional fried dishes served after the requisite candlelight ceremonies.
Chanukah festivities also traditionally include the spinning of a dreidel, a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter inscribed on each side.