‘It’s about light over darkness’: 200 celebrate Hanukkah in Lynnwood ceremony

For the 12th year, the Chabad Jewish Center of Snohomish County held a menorah lighting ceremony. The event was held at Lynnwood  City Hall, which opened its doors to those of the Jewish faith as well as non-Jewish community members.

Although I am not of the Jewish faith, I look forward to coming to this event each year. An older gentleman walked toward me and said in a hearty voice, “Hi, David! Nice to see you again!” I complimented him on his memory because I certainly don’t remember names from a year ago.

Our greeting turned serious when I asked him why it was important for him to be here today. He said, “This is Hanukkah!  We’re lighting all the lights to light up the world. The world is so dark; we need to make light in the world, so everybody knows that Jews are here to stay.”

This year, with the events in Gaza on everyone’s minds, I asked Rabbi Berel Paltiel how his message would be different this year. He said, “It’s a message of resilience, a reminder to be proud and not to cower. I think that’s a message that’s going to resonate with a lot of Jews who are choosing to respond that way.  Menorah is really no more appropriate time than now. We need a light today, and I think Jewish people are feeling that need more than ever before.”

Among those in attendance was Lynnwood Mayor Christine Frizzell, who said, “I talked to some people in the audience who said, ‘I’m not Jewish but I’m here to support peace in our world.’ “

Lynnwood Police Chief Cole Langdon was present and said, “During this time of gratitude, I want to express our thanks for giving us something that’s worth protecting.”

Congressman Rick Larsen also spoke to the group of about 200 people. “It’s a very tense time in our communities, and I want to thank all the members of our community for coming tonight,” Larsen said. “Hanukkah is about light over darkness, and we need a lot of light these days. Tonight’s a reminder that the light shines brightly not only in the candle of the menorah but look around you: It shines brightly in the spirit of our community here.”

Although Snohomish County Executive Dave Sommers wasn’t able to attend, he sent a proclamation, which Patiel read: “I do hereby proclaim Hanukkah as a cherished celebration in Snohomish County that contributes to our diverse and thriving communities. We join together to keep the light of hope and freedom lit for all, and we work together to cast out the dark shadows of hate, bigotry, and antisemitism in Snohomish County and around the world.”

Also in attendance were Lynnwood City Councilmembers Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, Patrick Decker and George Hurst.

The Seattle-based Klez Katz Klezmer Band provided lively traditional music, which stirred people to clap, tap their feet and sing along.

There were plenty of jelly-filled donuts. Other gifts included chocolate coins (“gelt”), toy dreidels, flags and menorahs.

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.

— Story, photos and video by David Carlos

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