Jewish celebration of Chanukah begins

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 5:49 pm | Updated: 9:30 pm, Sat Dec 22, 2012.

SARASOTA - The Jewish celebration of Chanukah begins tomorrow at sunset and continues until December 16th.

The lighting of the menorah is a central part of that celebration.

Rabbi Steinmetz says Chanukah is the biggest Jewish celebration of the year here on the Suncoast and the purpose of "A Taste of Chanukah" is to get the whole community involved in the fun.

"We are going to have a very famous band from N.Y. and bringing the best chefs in town…Michaels On East, Mattison’s, The Asia Arts, Delicious Creations. We want make to make sure people are celebrating this holiday," says Rabbi Steinmetz.

He says he hopes people of all faiths show up, because Chanukah carries universal message. "The purpose of this holiday is to remind us that the spirit overcomes the physicality and materialism, because the miracle about 1 candle supposed to be lit for one night and it lasted 8 nights," says Rabbi Steinmetz.

To celebrate that miraculous event, A Taste of Chanukah will have a 3-ton snow slide, plus lots of other entertainment. "We have aerialists we have laser light show we have a stilt walker a magician face painting," says Rabbi Steinmetz.

It's free on Sunday 3 to 7 pm at the gazebo in Phillippi Estate Park.

In South County, there is a Chanukah celebration scheduled at the gazebo in Centennial Park on Tuesday. It starts at 4:30. There will be live music, entertainment, gifts for the kids and the lighting of giant 12-foot menorah.

In Bradenton on Monday night at 6 pm, 2 Jewish congregations will come together to light a menorah.

"We're going to have a little bit of the story of Chanukah and a little bit of the story of The Candelabra, and then we will light the candles and have a saying of each of the candles, and then have some traditional songs," says Irving Zamikoff of Temple Beth El, Bradenton.

It's not just for Jews. The whole community is invited. "It's my hope that people will leave the ceremony feeling a sense of unity and togetherness as a Jewish community and our friends from all over Manatee County," says Rabbi Harold Caminker.

On Saturday night at sunset, Chanukah, the season of lights and miracles, begins in downtown Bradenton.

The rabbis say this public lighting of the menorah only started recently. In the past, it was a private ceremony held in homes or Jewish gathering places. They hope making it public will promote understanding and acceptance among people of different faiths.

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