Syracuse celebrates the start of Hanukkah with menorah lighting in Clinton Square 

Updated Dec 22, 2019;

Syracuse celebrates first night of Hanukkah by lighting Clinton Square menorah

The City of Syracuse marked the first night of Hanukkah by lighting a menorah in Clinton Square. It's the 38th year of the ceremony.



By Chris Carlson | [email protected]





Syracuse, N.Y. — Clinton Square became even more festive on Sunday night, as Rabbi Yaakov T. Rapoport lit the first candle on a menorah in downtown Syracuse to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.

The menorah lighting brought approximately 40 people to downtown Syracuse. Chabad Lubavitch of Central New York offered guests cider, doughnuts and Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins).

Mayor Ben Walsh participated in the lighting with Rapoport, and the pair was lifted to the top of the public menorah by Syracuse firefighters.

The menorah sits across Clinton Square from a Christmas tree and nativity scene, with the areas separated by the city’s ice rink. Christmas music played at the rink, mingling with the Hanukkah music set up for the night by Chabad Lubavitch of Central New York.

The two celebrations offered a tangible mix of Syracuse’s diversity with two religions sharing the space to celebrate their holiday.

“It’s the message of diversity,” Rapoport said. “It’s very important.”

About a hundred skaters enjoyed the relatively warm winter night, while the nearby menorah lighting and music sent a small group kicking up their heels and dancing.

“This is one of many ways in which we embrace our diversity here in this community,” Walsh said. “It’s our diversity that makes us stronger. ... It’s important to bring some light into our community and all of our lives.”

Rapoport said that one of the messages of Hanukkah is that a little bit of light dispels much darkness, a proverb written on a sign attached to the downtown menorah.

Rapoport said he hopes that the people of Syracuse and Central New York will offer that light to each other and do so often. Lighting the candle each day, he hopes, serves as a reminder to offer it each day. Lighting the candle for eight days is a reminder not to stop at a week.

“Tonight we lit one candle," Rapoport said. “Tomorrow night two. Three. You think you lit a candle, you already did something good? The message of Hanukkah is that you did something good today, then you do twice as good tomorrow. You keep on going.”

Hanukkah began Sunday night and lasts through Monday, Dec. 30. Rapoport will light an additional candle downtown each day, with refreshments available on Monday and next weekend.

The Chabad Lubavitch of Central New York sets up public menorahs in downtown Syracuse, Hancock International Airport, Destiny, DeWitt and Fayetteville. This is the 38th year the group has set up the public menorahs.

Here is the schedule for the lighting of downtown menorah:

  • Monday (Dec. 23), 4:30 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon will join Rabbi Rapoport in the lighting of the menorah. Hot cider and Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) will be available.
  • Tuesday (Dec. 24), 4:30 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse.
  • Wednesday (Dec. 25), 4:30 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse.
  • Thursday (Dec. 26), 4:30 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse
  • Friday (Dec. 27) 3:44 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse
  • Saturday (Dec. 28), 6:30 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse. Hot cider, donuts and Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) will be available.
  • Sunday (Dec. 29), 5 p.m.: Clinton Square, downtown Syracuse. 

There also will be special lightings with real candles at these locations:

  • Menorah on Highbridge Road, Limestone Plaza, 5:30 p.m.. Dec. 23: Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson will be joining Rabbi Rapoport for the lighting.
  • Hancock International Airport, 5 p.m., Dec. 26

Historically, Hanukkah marks the victory of the Jews, led by the Maccabees, against the Syrian persecution and religious oppression more than 2,000 years ago. When the Maccabees came to rededicate their temple, they found only a small amount of oil - enough for only one day - to light the menorah. But the oil is said to have lasted eight days.

The eight-day commemoration of Hanukkah is based on the lunar calendar and therefore can fall anytime from late November to late December.

For more Information, call the Chabad Lubavitch of Central New York at 315-424-0363 or go to the website.

Contact Chris Carlson anytime: E-mail | Twitter | 315-412-1639

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