Hanukkah event spreads light in darkness

LAKEWOOD RANCH — There was a sprightly atmosphere for the second night of Hanukkah, where families gathered to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights.

But there also was the remembrance Monday of the recent terrorist attack at Mumbai, where Jews were among those singled out.

Hanukkah is a time to bring a little more light into the world, where darkness sometimes seem to overwhelm the light.

Rabbi Mendy Bukiet, of the Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, encouraged hundreds who gathered on Lakewood Ranch Main Street to spread love, to do good deeds and to strive to make the world a place of peace.

Bukiet also encouraged them to light a candle against the gloom.

“When you have a very dark room, a candle chases away the darkness,” Bukiet said.

Jill Schein was serving latkes, a type of fried potato pancake, seasoned with onions. She said the oil that is used to cook the latkes is a reminder of a tiny amount of oil that miraculously burned eight days when the holy temple in Jerusalem was rededicated at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.

“We want to bring light into the world and rededicate ourselves to Judiasm,” Schein said of lighting the menorah.

The lighting of the menorah is more important this year, with the attack in Mumbai, agreed Bobbi Frey, who was serving latkes with her sister, Sharon Zimmerman, and mother, Jacki Wilson.

Rex Jensen, president and chief executive officer of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, developer of Lakewood Ranch, was invited on stage prior to the menorah lighting.

“We had a dream Lakewood Ranch would become a community. One of the telling points is the amount of religious diversity and freedom,” Jensen said.

“I want to thank you for helping make Lakewood Ranch a community,” Jensen said.

Martin W. Haberer, associate executive director of the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Federation, commended the Chabad for its growth over the past five years.

He described the Chabad and Rabbi Bukiet’s approach as “one soul at a time, one good deed at a time.”