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Newburgh synagogue celebrates first night of Hanukkah

Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 8:24 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 12:26 AM CST
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NEWBURGH, Ind. (WFIE) - Sunday was the first night of Hanukkah, with the eight-day Jewish celebration falling earlier on the calendar than usual this year.

A synagogue in Newburgh kicked off its holiday festivities this weekend.

On the first night of Hanukkah, people of the Jewish faith light the menorah, which is exactly what happened outside Temple Adath B’nai Israel on Sunday evening.

The Chanukah lighting was held in the synagogue parking lot, as those who attended got to enjoy some hot chocolate and other treats.

Normally, Hanukkah falls a little closer to Christmas, or at least in the month of December. This year, the Jewish community get to start celebrating over Thanksgiving weekend.

“It’s nice for people this year because they’ve been with their families for Thanksgiving, and then it goes right into Hanukkah that weekend,” Rabbi Gary Mazo said. “It’s kind of a nice thing.”

People gathered outside the synagogue - a tradition at Adath B’Nai Israel that started because of COVID-19, and then stuck around.

“Last year, the synagogue was closed and nobody could come in, so we only did this outside,” Mazo said. “It brought people together to celebrate Hanukkah. So this year, even though we’re back open, people really enjoyed that so we thought that was a really nice tradition we started.”

Hot chocolate and traditional Hanukkah foods were served after the lighting of the menorah. Doris and Phil Siegel’s children couldn’t be there in person, so some video called in.

“One daughter lives in Canada, one lives in Portland, and one in Maryland and one here in Evansville,” Doris said.

The Siegel’s kids may be in other states, but the couple says they have family at the synagogue in Evansville to make Hanukkah special.

“We’ve been married 65 years, and we’re the oldest ones here and all of our kids are out of town, so we thought we’d come see the young ones here,” Doris said. “We haven’t seen a lot of these people in a long time, and for us, it’s exciting to be here.”

While people celebrate and have fun, Rabbi Mazo hopes they keep in mind the reason they’re there.

“The lights of Hanukkah really remind us of the light of our faith, that even through dark times, still continues to burn through this day,” he said.

Rabbi Mazo says the lighting of the menorah will be streamed on their Facebook page each night of Hanukkah.

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