By Sarah Kay Hurst
“The story of Chanukah is not about the military victory,” Rabbi Gorelik began, “but about the light that would not stop shining.”
Over 200 people gathered at the Loveland Museum on Sunday, Dec. 21 to learn about Chanukah, watch the lighting of the menorah, sing Chanukah songs, and enjoy latkes, traditional potato pancakes, and donuts. It was the first time the City of Loveland publicly celebrated the Jewish holiday.
Rabbi Gorelik, a member of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, presided over the evening’s events, including the lighting of the menorah. Mayor Pielin lit the middle candle, while Megan Dunn, a member of the Jewish community, lit the candle on the rightmost branch to commemorate the first night of Chanukah. Several dignitaries attended, including State Sen. Steve Johnson, State Reps. Don Marostica and Kevin Lundberg. Johnson read a letter from Gov. Bill Ritter, who hailed the celebration as a “monumental event.”
As people all over the world said the blessings to light the menorah, Mayor Gene Pielin expressed his hope that Sunday would be the beginning of a tradition that would continue for many years to come. “This is the longest and darkest night of the year,” he declared. “And yet we are going to have light that will shine through the darkness.”
Rabbi Gorelik recounted the tradition of Chanukah, which began during a time of persecution for the Jews. Forbidden by the Greeks to practice their faith, the Jews rebelled, triumphing in an astonishing victory. Upon returning to the desecrated temple, they wanted to light the menorah, but found only one jug of oil, enough for just one night. Miraculously, however, the oil burned for eight days.
Laura Levine, a member of the Jewish community who has lived in the area for over 30 years, proudly affirmed it was “a historic moment for Loveland and for us.” She urged everyone present to remember that Chanukah is not just an event of the past, but a timeless story of light overcoming darkness, “Watch it happen in the dawn of each new day, with every breath of life, with every cry of a newborn child, every decision to do good in the face of evil, to build where others destroy. All those and more are Chanukah.”
Rabbi Gorelik echoed her sentiments, affirming Chanukah’s place in our world today. He spoke of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India as a time of great darkness, but insisted there is “only one answer one can possibly have to death and destruction, to wanton hatred…and that is wanton love.” He assured everyone that such darkness can be overcome by the light, by “the miracle within the hearts of every person in this room and in the world.”
As the evening drew to a close, Rabbi Gorelik spoke of the little bursts of light each person can bring into the world, simple deeds such as helping another human being, giving charity, having better relationships with family and friends, and giving back to the community. “We all have the power to illuminate the darkness,” he stated. “We will make this world a better place, one good deed at a time.”
<p>Rabbi Gorelik stands in front of the menorah with daughter Bassie, 4. His wife, Devorah, holds their son Mendel, 1. Laura Levine of the Loveland Jewish community stands next to her mother, Esther.</p>
<p>Rabbi Gorelik leads Megan Dunn, 18, in lighting the first candle of the menorah to signify the beginning of Chanukah Sunday evening.</p>