At 8 feet long and comprising 560 cans of food, it wasn’t your typical menorah.
“Tonight we celebrate the power of light,” Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel said Wednesday night, as he led a crowd in front of Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., in a menorah-lighting ceremony.
The ceremony marked the second night of Hanukkah.
Local businesses donated cans to the cause, and those cans would be donated to local food pantries, said Tiechtel, of the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life.
According to Jewish religious tradition, Hanukkah marks a victory from around 168 B.C., in which Jewish fighters known as the Maccabees defeated a militarily stronger Syrian-Greek force to reclaim the holy temple in Jerusalem. After reclaiming the temple, the Maccabees set out to burn oil in the temple’s menorah for eight days in order to purify it.
The Maccabees were upset to discover there was only enough oil to last one day. But they pressed on and lit the menorah anyway. Miraculously, it burned for the full eight days.
Tiechtel said Hanukkah was all about having faith that a tiny thing, such as that one day’s worth of oil, could make a big difference. He said the 560 cans of food in the Lawrence menorah would go out into the community and make a difference.
“As we think about those in our community who are suffering, tonight we make a decision that we are going to light just one little can, one little good deed, that will change the world forever,” Tiechtel said.
Lawrence Mayor Aron Cromwell, City Commissioner Hugh Carter and Police Chief Tarik Khatib were on hand for the lighting. Cromwell had the honor of lighting the flame.
“In Lawrence, Kansas, we are what we are because of our tremendous diversity here, and this is a great example,” Cromwell said before lighting the flame.
After the lighting ceremony, Tiechtel invited the crowd to enjoy some traditional latkes and donuts.
“Remember on Hanukkah, there are no calories and no cholesterol,” he joked.