Despite gusts of frigid Santa Ana wind that blew unfettered at speeds up to 45 mph, the local Jewish community’s Menorah stood strong – rooted in the ground at Valencia Town Center by the their immutable Hanukkah spirit and their dedication to the religion.
It was here, in the courtyard between Saddle Ranch Chop House and Sisley, that over 50 members from Santa Clarita’s three main Jewish congregations gathered on Sunday night to light their 8-foot-tall menorah.
“We come together, the three major Jewish organizations in the Santa Clarita Valley – Congregation Beth Shalom, Beth Ami and Chabad of SCV – to have a joint Hanukkah celebration,” said Rabbi Ron Hauss of Beth Shalom. “It primarily consists of the lighting of the menorah, the setting up of the tables and bringing the jewish community for its public celebration.”
Local residents began to gather around the Menorah shortly before 5 p.m. on Sunday, where they began the evening’s festivities with a number of both traditional and original Hanukkah songs sung by Congregation Beth Shalom’s youth chorus.
The crowd was particularly fond of their original song, “Would You Like to Build a Dreidel,” a creative take on the song “Would You Like to Build a Snowman,” from the animated film Frozen.
But as the sun began to sink below the horizon, Rabbi Hauss took the stage and addressed the crowd.
“Here we are, 2,200 years later, celebrating the [Hanukkah] miracle,” he said as he was met with a round of applause.
Hauss turned the microphone over to Rabbi Chroni Marozov, who playfully teased the crowd about the weather – many of whom were bundled in thick winter coats – citing his childhood Hanukkahs in Montreal.
“I keep hearing about how it’s cold,” he said. “But when I was growing up in Montreal it didn’t feel like Hanukkah unless it was below zero.”
Marozov then lit the Menorah, six candles for the six days which have elapsed.
For the local Jewish community, it was a moment of both pride and unity.
“One of the great themes of Hanukkah is the idea of unity,” said Hauss.
“Whatever our differences are in terms of practice, we all are Jews and we come together to celebrate the commonality and what it means to be Jewish.”