The million lights already part of One Loudoun’s LightUP Fest are about to get nine new friends.
To celebrate the first day of Hanukkah, Rabbi Chaim Cohen and Chabad of Loudoun County will sponsor the lighting of a 6-foot Menorah Dec. 2 to mark the start of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights.
The celebration is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., with Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall lighting the center candle on the Menorah about 7.
“The whole message of Hanukkah is the strength of light over darkness,” Rabbi Cohen said. “Everyone experiences darkness in their life, and the way to deal with that is to introduce light into your world.”
Hanukkah celebrates the revolt by Jews who were prohibited by the Greeks from worshiping in their temple, and the victory by a small band of Jews over the Greek army. After their victory about 160 BC, the Jews returned to find the Greeks had desecrated the temple and defiled the oil they used to light the temple’s Menorah. They found one jug that was not desecrated and lit the Menorah. That oil, which should have only been enough to keep the Menorah burning for one day, lasted seven more days until the Jews were able to produce more olive oil to keep the lights burning.
“The lighting of the Menorah is a celebration of two miracles,” Cohen said. “The first was the victory over the Greek army, which was the first real battle for religious freedom. The second miracle is that the oil lasted until they could get more to keep it going.”
Cohen stressed that the Menorah lighting – and the Hanukkah message – are not limited to the Jewish community.
“It’s a very special holiday because it signifies the importance of religious freedom,” Cohen said. “We are blessed to live in a community and a country where all faiths are welcome to practice as their tradition dictates. I believe this is a beautiful sign that we are indeed stronger than hate, and unity and togetherness are always going to prevail.”
The Menorah has eight candles to symbolize the eight days the oil lasted, and one larger candle in the center that is used to light the others. Each night, one more candle is lit until all eight are burning at the end of Hanukkah.
“The one in the middle, which we call the service candle, is the one Chair Randall will be lighting,” Cohen said. “We will probably have someone from the community light the other one.”
In addition to the regular LightUp Fest activities, Chabad of Loudoun County is sponsoring holiday singing, dancing student rabbis and traditional Hanukkah treats like latkes, doughnuts and chocolate coins.
Free parking is available, but there is an admission charge to enter the LightUP Fest.
One Loudoun is at Route 7 and the Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn.