Bette Keva [Signal Staff Writer]
The message was freedom and the medium was entertainment when a few hundred people came to celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah Wednesday at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Everything had meaning — the latkes (potato pancakes) and the jelly doughnuts, the joyous dancing, the Israeli signing, the juggler who wowed the children, and the lighting of the giant menorah sponsored by Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley.
Chabad Rabbi Chone Marozov introduced Councilman Cameron Smyth, who served as mayor this past year. Marozov joked that Smyth would always be mayor to the people of this valley.
“Even when the world calls him president, he will always be mayor to us,” Marozov said.
Smyth lit the shamash, the “servant” candle in the middle of the menorah that is used to light all the rest. The other four candles were then lit by Chabad member Dennis Young.
Smyth and Marozov said the community is fortunate to be so diverse.
The crowd was entertained by a musician and by David Cousin, who juggled such things as an egg, boccie balls, a frying pan, a bowling ball and a lit torch.
Hanukkah — which means dedication — is the eight-day commemoration of what Jewish people call the miracle of the oil. In 165 B.C., the Greek Syrians tried to obliterate Jewish customs and rituals. During the ensuing war, the Greeks seized the Jews’ holy temple, converting it to the worship of Zeus.
After the Jews defeated the larger Greek army, they entered the temple, cleaned and repaired all that was damaged, and wanted to burn candles in a menorah in order to celebrate, but there was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.
The eight-day miracle of the oil is symbolized by eating latkes and doughnuts that are fried in oil. And because the holiday signals the Jews’ freedom to worship as they wish, people are encouraged to demonstrate their joy by singing and dancing.