“This year Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving which I believe hasn’t happened since 1888. It’s very exciting,” Rabbi Mintz from Chabad Newport said. “Thanksgiving has lots to do with Chanukah. Thanksgiving comes packed with a deep narrative about a challenging journey to escape religious persecution for freedom in a new land, the establishment of a democratic charter, and a sense of divine providence that carried refugees to a new land away from their plight.”
“That’s the story of Chanukah as well,” Rabbi Mintz continued. “The narrative is deeply embedded in the collective Jewish psyche about how the Jews fought back against religious oppression in ancient Israel to earn our freedom. We celebrate Chanukah thanking God for the miracles of the past, as well as the miracles of the present. In a very profound way, Thanksgiving and Chanukah are deeply connected, and the combined focus reminds us of all we have to be grateful for in this land of promise and liberty.”
Rabbi Mintz invites the community to celebrate the Festival of Lights at Chabad Newport’s 13th annual Menorah Lighting in the Atrium Garden at Fashion Island on Sunday, December 1. The event begins at 3 p.m. and will include balloon animals, face painting, crafts, dreidles and doughnuts, musical performances, games, and gifts. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher will be honored with lighting the Menorah.
“In keeping with the traditions of giving gifts and doing good deeds, we’ll have gifts for every child,” Rabbi Mintz said. “We collect toys all year long, the community and toy companies like Jacks Pacific have been wonderfully generous.”
“We anticipate 1000 people coming through during the entire event,” Rabbit Mintz said. “We’ll also have members of our very own Friendship Circle singing too. They have musical talents and gifts to share, and they are ecstatic about it. It’s really sweet to hear their voices and see the excitement in their eyes and faces.”
The Friendship Circle is an organization that pairs children with special needs with teenage volunteers to be friends. The program promotes greater understanding of the unique gifts of children with special needs and encourages respect and empathy for those facing difficult challenges. There are over 80 Friendship Circles around the world and participants do not have to be Jewish.
Last year the Menorah was decorated like Noah’s Ark. This year the focus in on Jerusalem stone.
“Jerusalem stone is symbolic, dating back to Temple times,” Rabbi Mintz said. “Many buildings in Israel today have a steel base structure adorned with the beautiful Jerusalem stone on the outside. Our Menorah does too.”
Rabbi Mintz explained that the Menorah has eight branches, four on either side, with one branch called the Servant Candle that stands higher than the others.
“The Servant candle gives light to all the other candles, but never attains the status of the Chanukah light in its own right,” he said. “He never thinks about himself. It’s a spiritual perspective from Judaism that when one foregoes his own needs in order to light the flame in others, there is no greater virtue. Going into this Festival of Lights reminds us to see how we can sacrifice some of our needs and priorities for the sake of goodness and truth, and for the sake of someone else.”
“I see such difference between those who have lived lives of self sacrifice and those who take the easy road,” he continued. “Those who sacrifice live lives with greater depth, purpose and meaning; they have made a tremendous contribution to this world, and to their own lives in the process.”
For further information, go to jewishnewport.com.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].