Hanukkah begins in Auburn

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.


Menorah lighting
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Rabbi Hillel Katzir, left, tries to light a torch that he planned to use to light the giant menorah at Temple Shalom in Auburn on Saturday night.

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I would like to wish all of the Jewish faith a very Happy Hanukkah. I respectfully disagree with the lady that said Christmas isn't about family. It surely is and has been in my family forever. We had wonderful family gatherings even when we couldn't afford to exchange gifts and now we don't exchange either except for our own children and grandchildren but all get together for a luncheon. Its the market and the media that have whipped this into a shopping frenzy. I shop for the bargains if it is something that I truly need and can get it cheaper this time of the year. I sure saw alot of people out on Black Friday that I new weren't shopping for Christmas. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ to us. The Menorah in front of the Temple Shalom is a beautiful display and will make a point of going by to see it but how would you feel if some people got together and decided you have to call it a large candle holder? How can anyone that claims to be religious be offended by someone else's religion I will never know. Then you have the atheists who don't believe in anything and want everyone's religion taken away. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and Happy Hanukkah.


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