Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick lights the first candle on the large public menorah set up in Kelowna’s Stuart Park to mark the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. —contributed

Menorah lighting ceremony in Kelowna draws record crowd

More than 180 people turn out to mark the first night of the Jewish Hanukkah holiday in the city

More than 180 people turned out Sunday night for the annual menorah lighting ceremony in Stuart Park in downtown Kelowna, marking the first night of Hanukkah.

Organized by Chabad Okanagan, Centre for Jewish Life and Learning in Kelowna, this year’s was the largest City of Kelowna Hanukkah celebration to date and amongst the speakers, it also featured a grand chocolate gelt (chocolate coin) drop from atop city tire truck.

“It’s really special when our people can gather as one, in celebration of our faith and our traditions, in a city that welcomes it and finds pride in inclusiveness. We are blessed to live in such an embracing community,” said Rabbi Shmuly Hecht of Chabad Okanagan.

“The message of the lights is that every day, we must increase in our efforts to spread goodness and light in the world. The one candle from yesterday, must increase to two, today. Every living thing must grow” he said.

Hanukah is an eight-day holiday that runs this year from Dec 2 to Dec 10.

RELATED: Hanukkah menorah to be lit in Downtown Kelowna

Kelowna MLA Norm Letnick lit the first candle on the nine-foot high public menorah in Stuart Part this year He spoke about his pride in participating in community events, showing support for all faiths and traditions. He also spoke about his father, who was Jewish, and his mother who was Catholic. He thanked the Hecht for his work throughout the Okanagan and in bringing people together at Chabad.

Deputy mayor Gail Given, representing council, expressed the city’s support for all faith groups and thanked the Chabad Okanagan for its educational and outreach work in Kelowna.

Chabad Okanagan will once again hold its annual Hanukah Tour Across the Valley, this year.

Now in its eighth year it will be at the Vernon Museum Dec. 3, Salmon Arm’s Piccadilly Mall Dec. 4, Penticton’s Cannery Dec. 5, the Oliver Correctional centre Dec. 6, Kelowna General Hospital Dec. 7 and in Peachland Dec.9.

Visit www.jewishokanagan.com for more info.

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