AUBURN — Not the cold, the rain nor even the dark could dampen the start of the Hanukkah holiday.
Rabbi Hillel Katzir tried and tried Saturday to light the 12-foot-tall mega-menorah outside Temple Shalom Synagogue Center on Saturday. He managed to slide the candles into place, using a specially made boom.
His torch failed to spark, though.
After a few minutes, Katzir resigned himself to the finger-numbing cold and promised it would light Sunday night. He will have seven more chances.
"We're not disappointed," said Suzanne Cohen, who stood beneath the menorah with her three children, Heath, Danielle and Nona. They planned to go home and light their family menorah.
The holiday — often called "The Festival of Lights" — will still be bright, she said.
The family has planned eight nights of special dinners and traditional foods. At home, there were decorations. Though Suzanne shares her Jewish faith, her husband is not Jewish. They plan to celebrate Christmas, even putting up a tree when the Hanukkah holiday ends.
"Christmas is a celebration over one day with presents," she said. "Hanukkah is more about the family and being together."
Casey Paige also stood by and watched, not bothered by the cold or the dark. Paige, who is converting to the Jewish faith, simply wanted to be with Jews this night, before going home and lighting his own candles.
"It's my first Hanukkah," he said. "It's part of exploring my faith."
Temple Shalom Synagogue Center is planning a Hanukkah party Sunday evening. Katzir plans to light the menorah at 5 p.m. each night of the holiday.