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Rain Can't Dampen Hanukkah Celebration in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – A light drizzle wasn't enough to keep a group of people from dancing in the parking lot of Wells Fargo Bank in Westport during the outdoor menorah lighting ceremony Wednesday night. They were celebrating Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights that began Tuesday night.

"We couldn't cancel because the Maccabees didn't let us," Rabbi Levi Stone said, referring to the Jewish revolutionaries honored during Hanukkah. Stone is the executive director of the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life, which co-organized the lighting ceremony with Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk.

As the story of Hanukkah goes, the Maccabees were victorious in their fight against the Assyrians, who tried to force their religious beliefs on the Jews. As such, Hanukkah is a "holiday of happiness," Stone said.

The giant menorah is located in the Compo Acres Shopping Center on Post Road East, across the street from where Westport resident Yekutiel Zeevi was fatally shot during a robbery Dec. 8.

Because Hanukkah is also about "spreading light," Stone said the lighting and placement of the menorah this year holds a greater symbolic purpose. The light will cast away the darkness of "the unfortunate incident" that occurred across the street, he said.

About 20 people, including Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, attended the lighting ceremony. But for Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of Beth Israel, the ceremony isn't about the number of people who attended.

"It's more about the people driving by and seeing [the menorah], and knowing that it happened and that our First Selectman was here for it," Hecht said.

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