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Hundreds celebrate first night of Hanukkah in Grand Rapids

18-foot-tall menorah stands in Calder Plaza
Posted at 9:48 PM, Dec 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-22 22:20:04-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Jewish people around the world are celebrating the first night of Hanukkah.

In Grand Rapids, hundreds of people came out to watch the first candle get lit at Calder Plaza, where a nearly 20-foot-tall menorah is now standing.

The celebration of Hanukkah honors a miraculous victory by the Jewish people more than 2000 years ago.

With latkes, dancing and gelt falling from the sky, it’s a happy holiday, that aims to bring light to the world.

“The idea is to bring light over darkness, every night we add another candle, the idea of bringing more light into the darkness,” Chabad House of Western Michigan Rabbi Yosef Weingarten said

With tragic anti-Semitic attacks seen in recent time, Rabbi Weingarten says this light is needed now more than ever.

“Exactly what I mean with darkness. Something that happened in New Jersey, Jersey City just last week. This idea of bringing light over darkness is what we need to do all over, not only in America, but all over the world, he added.

It’s an important message for Jews and gentiles alike.

“That’s exactly the idea of Hanukkah, everybody should join just as you see here tonight. Every individual in the world can do the same and bring light over the darkness," Weingarten explained.

“Go home and light your candle and if you have a neighbor that is dark in their home, light their candle, eventually light up the whole world. That’s the message of Hanukkah,” he added.