Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley, Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Beth Ami came together to gather the Jewish community of Santa Clarita for the lighting of the menorah on the last day of Hanukkah at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda attended and helped light the menorah Sunday with the rabbis, Choni Marozov, Jay Siegel and Mark Blazer.
Miranda said he was honored to present and participate in the lighting ceremony, especially after last year’s shutdown. He said the city could continue its social activities with safety precautions in place.
“We didn’t do it last year, but it occurs every year and they always invite the mayor and that’s a good thing. The city’s more than honored to be part of this,” Miranda said.
Blazer said the lighting ceremony doesn’t happen in many communities, and Santa Clarita is unique for having a community that fosters these relationships and brings people together.
“So thank you and everybody for being here,” Blazer said. “This is a very special thing. It’s not maybe a miracle but it’s pretty close.”
The menorah lighting in Santa Clarita has occurred for nearly 20 years, with last year’s lighting being canceled because of COVID-19 disruptions, according to Marozov.
“It’s a celebration of the miracle of Hanukkah, which is a celebration of light over darkness, freedom over oppression,” Marozov said. “It’s just celebrating our freedom to act freely as Jews.”
The lighting ceremony featured live acoustic performances of traditional Hanukkah songs, latkes and doughnuts to eat, and dreidels for children to play with during the holiday. Fried foods such as doughnuts and Latkes are eaten because the miracle of Hanukkah happened with oil, according to Marozov.
“It’s all about unifying, coming together, putting aside our differences and just coming together for the good of the entire community,” Marozov said.
Every night for eight nights, a candle is lit, with the eighth day culminating with the menorah completely lit. The menorah is a microcosm of the human being and helps individuals reflect and grow in spirituality, goodness and kindness, according to Marozov.
“When the entire menorah is illuminated that represents where we should be in our lives in relation to God and others,” Marozov said, adding the message of Hanukkah is universal, and even a single candle can shine brightness in darkness.
“So never underestimate a good deed or an act of kindness, mitzvah or any act of goodness that we do can truly illuminate the world,” Marozov said.
The lighting of the menorah was well received by the congregations — and shoppers who stopped to watch — and the rabbis left a message for all attendees of the event proclaiming the miracle of Hanukkah is a time of deep reflection with two ways to deal with the darkness.
“One way is when we’re confronted with the darkness in our life, we take a candle to fight the darkness and push away the darkness,” Siegel said. “The second is that when we confront the darkness in our life and take the candle, we investigate, we look in the darkness to search for a greater light.”