The Jewish community came together Sunday for the Chanukah Family Festival at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
“Hanukkah means dedication … and it’s about rededicating ourselves to what I like to think of as something very simple and that is ‘chesed’ or kindness,” said Rabbi Jay Siegel of Congregation Beth Shalom. “We light candles and we increase light. Over the next eight days, we will increase light as a community to hopefully increase the love and ‘chesed’ that is in the world.”
Each year, the three major Jewish organizations in the Santa Clarita Valley — Congregation Beth Shalom, Temple Beth Ami and Chabad of SCV — have a joint celebration, complete with the giant menorah-lighting ceremony.
“It’s great to celebrate Hanukkah with all of the Jewish community, all of the synagogues, all of our friends together,” added Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami.
Attendees could enjoy hot latkes, dreidels, raffles and children’s crafts while the children’s choir sang Hanukkah music, including the popular Dreidel song as well as an original take on the “Frozen” song, “Would You Like to Build a Snowman,” instead singing, “Would You Like to Light a Candle.”
Mayor Cameron Smyth was invited up to help light the 8-foot-tall menorah — his first official duty as the newly appointed mayor.
“Six weeks ago, our community changed forever,” Smyth said, regarding the Saugus High School shooting. “And that’s something that we cannot deny and it’s not something we should shy away from acknowledging … When a tragedy strikes, this community comes together and we wrap our arms around one another. We work to uplift and support our community and we’re going to continue to see that throughout the year, and there’s no better time to think about that and to come together, and certainly around the holidays.”
Afterward, Rabbi Choni Marozov of Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley asked the audience if they know what the word “meir,” pronounced mayor, means.
“The word ‘meir’ means to light,” he said, adding, “and just like our mayor brings light to Santa Clarita, so do every one of us being here tonight as a Jewish community bring light to our valley … So tonight, we’re going to light up the world, we’re going to light up Santa Clarita, and this is really the way that we banish the darkness in the world.”