Decatur lights the lights

In the Decatur square, a celebration took place. People sang. Hot drinks were passed out. Children danced around in circles. Decatur lit five lights, for the fifth night of Jewish winter holiday, Chanukah.

This was the scene at the first ever Decatur Menorah lighting.

Chabad Intown, a Jewish organization out to provide Jewish experience to all ages, hosted the event. They hoped to help spread the word and meaning of Chanukah. Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman led the lighting.

The flame was shared with everyone, children and adults, both of which had to be careful that the winds that night did not blow it out.
The flame was shared with everyone, children and adults, both of which had to be careful that the winds that night did not blow it out.

After mingling between attendees, Schusterman helped join the crowd through song. They sang classics like “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Oh Chanukah”. Then, Schusterman recited Hebrew prayers and helped pass the light of Chanukah around the crowd, while lighting the large menorah himself.

“[The festival] worked beautifully,” Schusterman said.

Children could choose to dance or play with balloon animals. Adults stood by, talking and watching the lights flicker in the cool air.

Many people attended and enjoyed the event, Decatur students included. Freshman Elliott Williams went to the lighting, especially for the latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).

Williams’ favorite part was when Chabad Intown incorporated the crowd in the ceremony, by giving candles to everyone.

“[The sharing of the flame] made everyone feel they were apart of the menorah as well,” Williams said.

People danced to Hebrew songs played through a large speaker, provided by Chabad Intown.
People danced to Hebrew songs played through a large speaker, provided by Chabad Intown.

He enjoyed the unity of the event.

“I felt like it brought together a bunch of people that don’t usually come together with a common celebration,” Williams said.

Schusterman is excited to build on this occasion and work more with the city, as he would “love to do more if the community wanted [more events].”

Williams would like to see this lighting become a tradition.

“Chanukah is probably the biggest holiday in Judaism, so it is easy to get people together,” Williams said.

Schusterman also hopes to make this menorah lighting an annual event. He wishes to see the “continued support for expression of different religions and tolerance of all people” in Decatur.

The large menorah was at least eight feet tall, with glass lanterns to help the flames stay lit all night long.
The large menorah was at least eight feet tall, with glass lanterns to help the flames stay lit all night long.

See Decatur’s Christian celebration of the Christmas tree lighting here.