Detroit celebrates Hanukkah with menorah lighting

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Detroit —

"Now we take the opportunity to light up Detroit," Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov told the crowd of hundreds waiting Tuesday evening at Campus Martius to light the menorah, the symbolic beginning of the eight days of Hanukkah. "To light up our souls."

Shemtov, the spirtual director at The Shul-Chabad Lubavitch in West Bloomfield, was joined in lighting the 26-foot tall menorah, just across the park from the Christmas tree, by Mayor Mike Duggan, Bedrock Real Estate CEO Jim Ketai and philanthropist Alan Zekelman.

Together they were raised by scissor lift to the top of the menorah. Or rather, above it and out of reach. After some brief technical difficulties with the lift and the wind blowing out the fire, the shamash, or center candle, and the candle for the first night of Hanukkah were officially lit.

"We were going to keep lighting it until we got it," Duggan joked afterward. "It would have been better if it had lit the first time, but it was all good."

It's the fourth annual "Menorah in the D" celebration and is quickly becoming an important holiday tradition. Hundreds filled the square to watch, sing songs and pray.

"Detroit has a great tradition of celebrating the contributions and beliefs of every community," said Duggan. "We need to celebrate the diversity of this community."

Cheryl Fogel of West Bloomfield came to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. She grew up in Detroit and said the celebration reminded her of when she was younger.

"It's a pleasure to be out here," said Fogel. "It's nice to see it coming back and everyone getting along." 222-2127