Rabbi Yaakov T. Rapoport lights the third candle to signify the third day of Hanukkah with Mayor of Fayetteville Mark Olson at the menorah in Limestone Plaza. (photo by Lauren Young)
It was the third day of Hanukkah on Dec. 4 — and the third time the village of Fayetteville hosted its menorah lighting at Limestone Place — but the usually joyous holiday’s proximity to the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh barely a month ago still weighs heavy on the minds of local Jewish residents.
For its 37th consecutive year, Chabad Lubavitch of CNY is lighting up Syracuse with its “Let There Be Light” Hanukkah campaign, holding one of its many menorah lighting ceremonies at the Fayetteville Menorah on Tuesday, Dec. 4, to commence the third day of the Jewish holiday, but to also express unity in response to the Pittsburgh shooting that happened in late October.
While many of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, the festival of lights, from the comfort of their own homes, Rabbi Yaakov T. Rapoport experienced his biggest crowd yet last Sunday night on Dec. 2, with over 60 people coming out for the menorah lighting at Clinton Square in Syracuse where he lit the menorah with Mayor Ben Walsh.
Rapoport said the visual was telling, especially after the Pittsburgh shooting, and that the “message of Hanukah, of light over darkness,” inspires him to hold more menorah lightings throughout Central New York. His wife, Chanie, also brings homemade cookies, doughnuts and hot cider to every lighting.
“It makes all the difference,” he said.
Mayor of Fayetteville Mark Olson, who helped light the menorah on a double-sided ladder with Rabbi Yaakov T. Rapoport, said the menorah lighting was established three years ago to diversify the community’s character.
“Three years ago we decided that we thought it was time to do this and honor our Jewish residents, and I think it’s important that we do that because it’s part of the quality of life we stress in the village,” said Olson. “Rabbi Rapoport has been great helping us out and doing all this for the village.”
Menorah lightings are also held at the Hancock International Airport, Destiny USA and in DeWitt at the intersection of Erie Boulevard & E. Genesee Street.
A menorah lighting to celebrate the second to last day of Hanukah will be held in Manlius at the Fayette Street Menorah on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.