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Community gathers to light menorah

SCV Jews lead celebration on fifth night of Hanukkah

Posted: December 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.

From left, Rabi Ron Hauss, Rabi Choni Marozov, Cantor Kenny Ellis and Rabi Mark Blazer dance on stage after lighting the menorah before the dozens of attendees at the annual Festival of Lights menorah-lighting ceremony held at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall on Sunday. Photo by Dan Watson.

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Colorful spinning dreidels, freshly cooked latkes and the sounds of Hanukkah songs filled the courtyard at the Valencia Town Center Mall Sunday evening for the community menorah lighting.

Members of Chabad of SCV, Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Beth Ami gathered Sunday, inviting the community to celebrate the fifth night of Hanukkah with the lighting of the community menorah.

“This is not a major holiday on the Jewish calendar but it is a major community event,” said Rabbi Ronald Hauss from Congregation Beth Shalom. “This is one of the few times during the year when all the different Jewish groups get together.”

Children of all ages were welcomed at craft tables to decorate cookies, create sand art projects and were given dreidels and gelt. Children’s choirs performed on stage singing traditional Hanukkah songs and attendees were offered kits to make their own menorah at home.

Jessica Shlager has brought her family to the event for the last three years. This year her two children sang with the Temple Beth Ami children’s choir during the program.

“You really can feel the sense of community,” she said. “It’s like a big family here in the valley.”

Each year, the mayor is asked to join the celebration. This year, Mayor Bob Kellar attended the event and joined in the festivities by helping light the menorah, saying he was “honored to be a part of the program.”

Attendees watched as Kellar assisted in lighting five lights on the menorah, along with the shamash, the center light of the menorah.

“The lights represent the good deeds we do to brighten the world around us,” Marozov explained. “Every night of Hanukkah we increase the light, just like everyday we should try to grow in spirituality and goodness.”

Cantor Kenny Ellis of Temple Beth Ami performed several songs from his hit Hanukkah album “Hanukkah Swings.”

Attendees listened to his smooth voice croon the words of “Ocho Kandelikas” for the crowd.

The tradition was started 14 years ago by Chabad of SCV. Chabad wanted to celebrate the holiday and honor the spirit of Hanukkah through unity. With that in mind, they invited the other Jewish communities to join the celebration.

The event has grown over the years, and this year nearly 600 people gathered for the celebration. Hot latkes were passed out and smiles were shared among attendees. The crowd joined in many of the songs, singing along with performers.

“It allows us to celebrate a true community spirit,” said Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami.

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