Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman had a special reason to smile at Richmond City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.
In the company members of city council, the Chabad of Richmond rabbi switched on the lights for his congregation’s eight-foot tall menorah to mark the beginning of Hanukkah, one of the biggest Jewish celebrations in the Hebrew calendar.
Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days - also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication – hence the eight candles on the menorah, either side of a ninth “service” candle.
The menorah has been getting lit for more than 10 years at city hall and is vastly outnumbered by Christmas trees in the lobby, which are part of Winter Wonderland event.
Not that it matters to Baitelman.
“One of the things about the menorah is that it is lit with candles and candles carry an incredible message in that, when you want to light up a dark room, all you need is one candle,” he told the Richmond News.
“(The candles) can change a room exponentially.”
Hannukah, added Baitelman, is the “one Jewish holiday that we do purposely take the message outside.
“Most of them are celebrated indoors, in our homes or in synagogues. That’s why menorahs are placed at windows and doors, as a message of hope and light for everyone to see.
“(Richmond) is a multicultural city and we pride ourselves in having everyone represented here (at city hall).”
Richmond’s Jewish community will also converge at Richmond Cultural Centre at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2 for the 30th anniversary lighting of a giant, 25-foot menorah.