Hundreds gather Sunday for annual Menorah Lighting ceremony

The first night of Hanukkah was observed Sunday by more than 250 people during the 8th Annual Menorah Lighting ceremony at Lynnwood City Hall.

People from multiple generations sang traditional Jewish songs, such as “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah,” “Blessings for Menorah Kindling” and “Maoz Tzur,” along with the all-time favorite “I Have a Little Dreidel.” Many others enjoyed the offerings of potato latkes, jelly-filled donuts, and chocolate coins.

This is the third year that traditional music was provided by the Seattle-based Klez Katz Klezmer Band, which stirred the crowd to clap, sing, and dance along.

Also present were Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith, Lynnwood Police Chief Tom Davis, and numerous Lynnwood City Councilmembers.

Chief Davis received a special gift of a Menorah from Rabbi Berel Paltiel. In presenting the gift, the Rabbi said, “It is due to your torch of goodness in our community that we can all play our tunes and live a life in a safe and happy environment.” Davis and his fellow law enforcement officers then posed for a picture with the Rabbi.

“The recent rise in hate speech and hate crimes nationwide, including the deadly shooting just last week in Jersey City, reminds us that we are one people as part of one nation under God, united with love against hate,” Paltiel said. “Tonight, we gather to celebrate Hanukkah, a celebration of light over darkness. The darkness that we as a nation have been experiencing must be fought with light and with goodness. We stand here to proclaim that we will not be intimidated by those who wish to scare and to divide us.

“Often, tragedies are the outgrowth of someone not knowing that he or she is important,” he continued. “It is a tragic and criminal reaction to someone not realizing that they are a candle; a gift to our world not only with God-given rights, but responsibilities. When a person sees no value in oneself, they view others the same way, and the effect can be catastrophic.

“The Hanukkah light we will kindle momentarily symbolizes the God-given purpose and value of each human being.

“Please tell your children not only how much you love them,” Patiel said, “but tell them how important they are. That they need no approval from anybody else because every day, God asks them to do their best. They are divinely important. What could be more important than that?

“Most importantly, please remember to tell yourself how important you are; how significant your life is.

“Please remember what the candle told us here tonight: That every mitzvah (a good deed) you do is a flame that illuminates our world.”

Hanukkah is the annual Jewish Festival of Lights, lasting eight days. Each night, a candle is lit on the Menorah, representing the eight nights a very limited amount of oil lasted miraculously for the Jewish people in fighting the Greek army in 165 BC.

People also celebrate by exchanging gifts, playing with dreidels, singing traditional Hanukkah songs, and eating jelly-filled donuts, latkes (potato cakes), and chocolate gelt (coins).

The  Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County sponsored the event.

— Story and photos by David Carlos

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