Jewish residents of Manatee County will have two events put on by local Chabad centers to choose from when the Festival of Lights kicks off on Tuesday evening.
The Chabad of West Bradenton and the Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch will each host a Chanukah celebration on Tuesday to kick-off the holiday.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the Jewish holiday will kick-off with a lighting of a six-foot menorah near the food court in DeSoto Square Mall, 303 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton, hosted by Chabad of West Bradenton. The public lighting ceremony will be followed by music, hot latkes, art and crafts and more.
This is the first time for the Chabad of West Bradenton.
“It is a holiday that enriches our lives with the light of tradition:” said Rabbi Zev Steinmetz, director of Chabad of West Bradenton, in an issued statement. “In ancient times our ancestors rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem with the Menorah. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place.”
Simultaneously at 6 p.m. Tuesday, a charity box menorah will be lit on Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street, hosted by the Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch and sponsored by Lakewood Ranch Main Street and The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.
Following the lighting, the celebration will include food from Falafel with Yoav and a Kosher BBQ, Kona’s Ice Truck, doughnut decorating, a juggler, hot latkes, face painting, Judah the Maccabee, Dreidel Moonbounce, Chanukah art and a storytime booth.
“The Menorah serves as a symbol of Lakewood Ranch’s dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship God freely, openly and with pride,” Rabbi Mendy Bukiet said in an issued statement. “Specifically in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution, the Menorah takes on profound significance, embodying both religious and constitutional principles.”
Each candle on the Lakewood Ranch menorah will double as a charity box, and money raised will go to various organizations in Israel including Chabad Victims of Terror and Kollel Chabad.
“There is no greater joy when we bring the light of Chanukah not only to ourselves, but others as well especially to Israel where the original Chanukah miracle took place,” Rabbi Mendy Bukiet.
Carli Neeman is looking forward to the annual event.
“We love to bring our kids to the Chabad Chanukah Celebration to experience the joy of the holiday. The lighting of the big menorah, the latkes, and all the fun Chanukah activities teach our children about the holiday while providing a warm and meaningful celebration,” Neeman said.
The Chabad of West Bradenton will also erect a menorah on the Manatee County Historic Courthouse grounds, to be on display from Dec. 7 to 21, as it has previous years.
For more information, on the West Bradenton festivities, contact the Chabad of West Bradenton at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit chabadofwestbradenton.com. For more information on the Lakewood Ranch festivities, visit chabadofbradenton.com/Chanukah.