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Westport Menorah Shines Bright, Spreads Message Of Hope

Westport resident Mark Jaffe lights the giant menorah outside 400 Post Road E. in Westport during an annual menorah-lighting ceremony Tuesday night. Photo Credit: Liana Sonenclar
There is plenty of dancing at Tuesday night's menorah-lighting ceremony in Westport. Photo Credit: Liana Sonenclar
The first candle on the menorah outside 400 Post Road E. in Westport is lit by resident Mark Jaffe. Menorahs are lit from right to left. Photo Credit: Liana Sonenclar
A group of students from Chabad Yeshiva in New Haven, who attending Tuesday night's menorah lighting ceremony is Westport, band together to sing a song after the menorah was lit. Photo Credit: Liana Sonenclar

WESTPORT, Conn. – There’s a little more light shining along Westport’s Post Road. On Tuesday night, four of the eight candles on the giant menorah outside the Wells Fargo Bank were lit in celebration of Hanukkah, an eight-day Jewish holiday that began Saturday night.

The holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees, Jewish revolutionaries. As the story of Hanukkah goes, after the Maccabees reclaimed the temple from the Assyrians—Syrian-Greek soldiers who tried to force their religious beliefs on the Jews—they were determined to purify the temple by burning ritual oil in the temple’s menorah for eight days.

The Maccabees, however, found enough oil to last only one day. But to their surprise, the oil lasted the full eight days. This is known as the miracle of Hanukkah, and is symbolized by lighting the menorah.

“We’re experiencing that miracle tonight,” Rabbi Levi Stone told the more than 20 people who gathered around the menorah. Stone is executive director of the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life in Westport, which co-hosts the lighting ceremony with Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk.

As thousands of cars travel the Post Road every day, Stone said he hopes that people will drive by the menorah and be reminded of the message of Hanukkah: good prevails over evil and to never give up.

After the menorah was lit, those gathered joined together to sing songs, dance and enjoy traditional Hanukkah fare, such as potato latkes and gelt. Stone’s 9-year-old daughter Mushka said although she enjoys going to Hanukkah parties and getting gifts, her favorite part of the holiday is “spreading the light and the miracle of Hanukkah.”

The Westport menorah lighting ceremony is a tradition that dates about six years, Stone said. TheOO center also organizes menorah-lighting ceremonies in Norwalk, Wilton and Weston.

Hanukkah continues until Sunday night.

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