Hanukkah 2017 to light up Metro Detroit
The Festival of Lights is another name Metro Detroit Jews call the Hanukkah holiday that each year allows them to remember how their ancestors escaped darker times.
The eight-day period starts at sundown Tuesday.
When worshipers throughout the region light menorahs each night, they share a timeless act that began thousands of years ago.
“The themes of this holiday relate to all of us, said Rabbi Mark Miller of Temple Beth El in Bloomfield Hills, which plans a menorah lighting and Hanukkah party Friday.
“Everybody can celebrate the idea that the future can be brighter than the past and we as individuals have an ability to symbolically bring the light of goodness, kindness and joy when we see other things unfortunately happening around us.
“It’s our story, but I think it’s everybody’s values that are shared at this time.”
From synagogues to community centers to suburban homes, Jews across southeast Michigan are heeding that idea to fuse their festivities with fun, charity, learning and culture through Dec. 19.
The area’s largest, most visible Hanukkah function might be the seventh annual Menorah in the D.
Kicking off at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, the gathering is expected to draw scores for family friendly activities: live entertainment and numerous games, crafts, face painting, jugglers, balloon sculpting, interactive experiments, kosher food, marshmallow roasting, even fire jugglers.
The main attraction illustrates the holiday: the lighting of a soaring steel and glass menorah. The piece represents the candelabrum on which candles are lit each night of Hanukkah — recalling how after forces known as the Maccabees overpowered the restrictive Syrians and worked to rededicate the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, one day’s stock of oil burned eight days.
“The menorah being placed in the heart of the city of Detroit is a reminder to us all that we should continually work to illuminate the world around us,” said Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, spiritual director and founder of The Shul – Chabad Lubavitch, a co-host.
“It’s an honor to be able to share the warmth and joy of Chanukah with all the Jewish families throughout southeastern Michigan and the community at large.”
Sharing with others informs a longstanding initiative that strives to help the less fortunate.
For nearly 20 years, the nonprofit Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit, which aids area seniors, struggling residents and others, has annually coordinated an Adopt-a-Family program that matches clients with donated gifts from community members.
As Hanukkah arrives, Jewish Family Service workers are distributing clothing, toys and other goods gathered at synagogues and elsewhere to about 800 people in need — a record number for the group, CEO Perry Ohren said.
“There’s more of a need and therefore more generosity going out. This time of year, people want to be involved in more direct giving.”
The holiday also offers a chance to embrace culture, which anchors an event Saturday at Eastern Market in Detroit.
Hosted by the Well, a Jewish community-building initiative based in Metro Detroit, includes “Lit,” a comedy from YidLife Crisis and Sandy Danto, klezmer and Balkan beats by the group Klezundheit and an interactive art installation.
“This really feels like a cool opportunity to not only come together as a community and celebrate Hanukkah but also to expose folks to a side of our inherited Jewish cultural tradition … that they may not have been exposed to prior,” said Rabbi Dan Horwitz, the Well’s founding director.
“It’ll be a large-scale cultural celebration and just a nice way to bring people together for the holiday.”