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Community menorah lighting spreads hope of Chanukah
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Kaitlyn lights the candle on the menorah for the second day of Chanukah during the public candle-lighting event held at Stanislaus State on Monday while her sister Charlotte and mom Frances look on (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Another annual holiday tradition returned to Turlock on Monday, when members of the community gathered at Stanislaus State to celebrate the second night of Chanukah with candle lighting and songs.

Rabbi Shalom Bochner from Congregation Beth Shalom led the public menorah lighting ceremony, one of many being held during the eight nights of Chanukah.

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Rabbi Shalom Bochner of Congregation Beth Shalom leads the community in song at Monday’s candle-lighting event held at Stanislaus State. Beth Shalom will host a series of public menorah lightings throughout the eight days of Chanukah (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Chanukah, based on the Hebrew word for "dedication", is also known as the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by the Jewish people for eight days; this year starting on Nov. 28. The festival marks the recovery of Jerusalem and the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.

Along with the historical reason for celebrating Chanukah, Rabbi Bochner talked about how the lighting of the candles in the menorah also are about bringing light into the world during the naturally darkest time of the year and what light represents spiritually.

“Chanukah teaches us three very important things. One, that light is more powerful than darkness. And I encourage you to do a simple scientific test of this theory. Go into a dark room and turn on just one little light or even one candle and suddenly you're in a very lit space. But notice that if you're in a light room, a little bit of darkness doesn't have that same impact light is more powerful than darkness... second…this teaches us that hope is more powerful than despair. As light is more powerful than darkness. Hope can be more powerful than despair. But here's a third an additional reason for lighting these candles. It is also a celebration of the power of spirits over the physical world. And let's face it the physical world right now is a challenging place. There's disease. We're standing apart from each other. We're wearing masks, we're getting vaccinated. There's difficult physical stuff in the world,” he said.

“And there's emotional division and political division. But the story of Chanukah teaches us that spirit is more powerful than physical. And when we tap into our own spiritual core, something amazing happens. It can connect us not only with ourselves and with other people that also have a spiritual core, because spiritually, there's a great oneness that fills the world. And so, Chanukah is not only a celebration of religious freedom, and proud Jewish identity, it's not only lighting up the dark in the darkest time of the year. It's a reminder, light is more powerful than darkness. Hope, more powerful than despair, and spirit is more powerful than physicality.”

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Reed Wagner and his sons Riley and Skyler take a photo in front the menorah after Monday’s candle-lighting event (KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal).

Congregation Beth Shalom will continue hosting public menorah lightings and Chanukah events, including:

·        - Wednesday — 5 p.m. at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto; 6 p.m. at Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto; and 7 p.m. at Library Park, 320 W. Center St., Manteca

·        - Thursday — 5 p.m. at The Park at Modesto, 2832 Health Care Way, Modesto; and 6 p.m. at O’Brien’s Market, 4120 Dale Rd., Modesto

·        - Friday — 4:15 p.m. at McHenry Village, 1700 McHenry Ave., Modesto; 5 p.m. at Beth Shalom Chanukah Party, followed by Shabbat Services at 6 p.m. and a Latke Dinner at 7 p.m.

·        - Saturday — 5:30 p.m. CBS Chanukah float in the Modesto Celebration of Lights parade; and at 7:30 p.m. at 10th Street Plaza, 1010 10th St., Modesto

·        - Sunday — 4 p.m. Chanukah Concert and Lighting event at Beth Shalom; and 6 p.m. an online community candle-lighting event on Zoom at:

For more information on any of the events, to purchase tickets for the Latke Dinner and to get the Zoom password for the community online candle-lighting, call (209) 571-6060.