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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hanukkah service dedicated to Mumbai victims

Hanukkah drew to a close yesterday and a final lighting of the menorah was held Sunday evening at Kukui Grove Shopping Center in commemoration of the lives lost at the Mumbai Chabad house 30 days ago.

“The terrorists came with guns, grenades and missiles, and the only thing we could come back with is to respond with kindness, love and light,” Rabbi Shmulik Schneerson said before lighting the giant island-style candelabra which stood before the mall’s center stage.

Alan and Claudia Jaffe of Long Island, N.Y., along with their family members, were a part of those who gathered Sunday to remember the lives tragically lost during the terrorist attacks in India.

When asked how they felt about the current crisis occurring in the Gaza Strip, Alan Jaffe said, “It’s troubling and we’re not quite sure what to make of it.”

The tragedy in Mumbai and the ongoing violence in Gaza are just recent examples of a long history of strife involving the Jewish people. The faith has often encountered attack, and the celebration of Hanukkah is one that honors the triumph of their religion over the Seleucids almost 2,500 years ago.

The tyrant emperor, Antiochus Epiphanes dramatically tried to suppress Jewish customs and a small band of Jewish rebels, the Maccabees, rose up against his mighty army and were victorious.

Following the rededication of the Jewish Holy Temple, the story goes that there was only enough oil to light the candle for one day, but, instead it miraculously burned for eight. Thus, the reason for celebrating eight days of Hanukkah.

“If you could put the meaning of Hanukkah into two words, it would mean ‘increasing light,’” Schneerson said. “The story happened many years ago but is just as relevant today.”

Rabbi Michoel Goldman, who organized the event, said the evening was special because it was not only the last night of Hanukkah, but it was a memorial service as well.

“When people open their eyes and their hearts, they will see we all deserve to live in peace,” said Ahmos Netanel of Anahola.

Four of the candles were dedicated in memory of his father, Yehosua Netanel.

Schneerson and Goldman are currently working on establishing a Chabad house on Kaua‘i.

“It’s a place where everybody can walk in and feel Jewish and connect to their roots no matter what their religious affiliations are, if any at all,” said Schneerson when describing what the purpose of a Chabad house is.

Schneerson, an insurance agent in Los Angeles, travels to Hawai‘i to help participate in Jewish festivities and is the seventh generation of Jews who established the concept of public menorah lighting and Chabad houses.

For more information, visit www.jewishkauai.org

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