Chanukah lights up Goodyear 

 

The West Valley is invited to help light the second candle of the Chabad Jewish Center of Goodyear'sCommunity menorah Sunday to help commemorate the second night of the holiday.
 
The event will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Southwest Valley YMCA at 2919 N. Litchfield Road in Goodyear.

8-day miracle

As a holiday, Chanukah commemorates the successful rebellion of the Maccabees, a small army made up of a Jewish priest and his family, against the Syrian Greeks, as well as a miracle from God that allowed one flask of oil to light up the Jewish temple for eight days.

"They wanted to teach and educate the Jewish people, who were a very small group at the time, to be like them. Of course [the Maccabees] could not change their philosophy, so they had to go to war," explained Rabbi Berel Zaklikofsky, director of the Chabad Center. "The Greeks took over the Jewish temple, disrespected and defaced it."

Once the temple was reclaimed by the Maccabees after the rebellion, they could only find one flask of oil in the ruins.

"Naturally it should've lasted only one day, but God made a miracle and made it last for eight days, that's why we have eight days of Chanukah, to symbolize how each day was a miracle for itself," Zaklikofsky said.

During Chanukah, one candle is lit right to left by a single candle, called the shamash, in the center of the menorah, at sundown on each day of the holiday.

Fried foods, such as doughnuts and potato pancakes known as latkes, are also commonly eaten during Chanukah to further symbolize the importance of the oil's significance and God's miracle.

Lighting the world

Usually menorahs are placed near a window in homes so that their lights can be seen by everyone, which is why Zaklikofsky explained that it's important to have a community event for the holiday.

"Even when times are dark and things aren't going well, we have an economic crisis or you're not doing so well, psychologically, we're reminded [by the lit candles] that only a little bit of light can push away darkness. Even a little flame can cause a big light, a big effect on the world," he said. "That message is important to share to the world, for other people to see. It's not all about us; it's about taking that hope and spreading that light."
Last year the Chabad center constructed a menorah built with more than 800 cans of food donated by the community. Afterward, the food was donated to local charitable organizations and families in need.

"Chanukah last year was very special and an amazing success. What the Southwest Valley community taught me about Chanukah last year is that when it comes to faith and community, we have to come together because if we don't, then nothing can get done," Zaklikofsky said.

This year, the event is more focused on gathering everyone together in the community regardless of religious affiliation.

"I think when it comes to that light, that hope and miracles, everybody is the same, everyone is equal. There is no difference," Zaklikofsky explained. "The idea of this event is that it's open to all, you don't have to be Jewish or have a beard like I do. It's all about religious freedom and that belief in hope and faith in God."

Rachel Trott can be reached by email at rtrott@westvalleyview.com or on Twitter @byracheltrott.