LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For the second night of Hanukkah, Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch commissioned a massive ice menorah, carved at Lakewood Ranch Main Street by Ice Pro.
Never mind that it began to melt in the 69-degree night air as soon as it was completed. The crystal-like ice sculpture brought beauty to the street, while little children looked on in awe.
"It's wonderful to be here tonight to have and to serve at Hanukkah. When we look around the world, the world is a little bit of a darker place, especially with everything that is happening in Israel, in America, and what happened in France, and all the other countries. There is a craziness of terror, of people trying to hurt other people. And whever there is a lot of darkness, the rabbi used to say now is the time to add a little more light," Rabbi Mendy Bukiet said.
Vanessa Baugh, a Lakewood Ranch resident and chair of the Manatee County Commission, had a similar theme in speaking to the crowd that gathered on Main Street to watch the lighting of the menorah, to sing songs like "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah," and "I Have a Little Dreidel," and to enjoy traditional food like latkes, potato pancakes.
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"Tonight is about community and love, and standing together to help everyone in the world who needs help," Baugh said. "May Hanukkah bring light to a world that has seen so much darkness in recent weeks."
Dr. Steve Shapiro, a leader of the congregation, delivered blessings for the menorah kindling, and then had the honor of lighting the second lamp.
Lighting the lamps proved as challenging as combining fire and ice might seem. But after some patient trial and error, and pulling the wicks a little longer, Shapiro got the lamps lit.
Among those who attended the menorah lighting was Dick Vallone.
"We are a blended family," Vallone said, adding that he is not Jewish but his wife is.
"We come every year. This is great," Vallone said, as he finished a Hanukkah snack while sitting on a curb. "We enjoy the camaraderie and the closeness of congregation members."
Hanukkah commemorates the cleansing and rededication of the Second Temple more than 2,000 years ago, and the oil to keep the menorah's candles burning for eight nights, when there seemed to be enough for only one day.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.