For the first time, a menorah was displayed and lit Sunday evening in NorthPark Mall in Davenport to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
A two-hour program sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of the Quad-Cities and the Jewish Federation of the Quad-Cities drew an audience that enjoyed children’s crafts and watched the lighting of the menorah and olive-oil press demonstrations.
Sunday was the eve of the eight-day observance that involves lighting a menorah each day. The tradition stems from what happened 2,000 years ago when, after years of oppression, the Jews won a war over the Syrians. They were prepared to reintroduce temple rituals, but they had only enough oil for one day. Still, the oil lasted for eight days.
“We want by-passers, shoppers, tourists and business people to see the menorah because the significance of Hanukkah lies in publicizing God’s miracles, then and now,” said Rabbi Shneur Cadaner, director of Chabad Lubavitch. “Every year, we try to look for something that’s unique and different, with a twist,” Cadaner said.
Cadaner’s son, Yossi Cadaner, 3, drew applause when he sang a song about Hanukkah and lighting the menorah.
Before the menorah was lit, Shmiel Benshimon, of Postville, Iowa, explained how the olive press works. Benshimon, a teacher, was accompanied by several high school students from Postville who attended the observance.
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“We’re going to fill up these special tubes with olive juice, and then we’re going to have some oil,” he explained. “The olive juice is spinning in this machine. There’s only a tiny drop of oil that comes out from this juice we put in.” Those attending had a chance to see the oil at the top of the tube after the demonstration.
Members the Jewish community and others enjoyed the presentation. “I’m here to participate in the joy of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and share in the exciting opportunitites that Chabad continues to bring to the Quad-Cities,” said Amy Schwartz of Davenport. “The quality of events that Chabad continues to bring to our community is always a welcome and dynamic addition to the Jewish experience we currently enjoy.”
The Chabad Lubavitch Organization, which, according to jewishquadcities.com, is “a philosophy, a movement, and an organization,” has placed other menorahs throughout the Quad-Cities. They will be displayed the entire week of Hanukkah to promote an awareness and appreciation for the holiday outside Wells Fargo bank in Rock Island, outside Quad-City Bank & Trust in Bettendorf and inside Hy-Vee on 53rd Street in Davenport.