KINGSTON, Ont. —The Jewish community in this eastern Ontario city lit the Chanukah candles together again this year, and for the first time, invited the entire city to take part.
Adrienne Scott, 9, left, and Arielle Kaplan, 9, light the Chanukah candles outside in Springer Market Square with historic City Hall in the background. [Jordan Press photo]
KINGSTON, Ont. —The
Jewish community in this eastern Ontario city lit the Chanukah candles
together again this year, and for the first time, invited the entire
city to take part.
Adrienne Scott, 9, left, and Arielle Kaplan, 9, light the
Chanukah candles outside in Springer Market Square with historic City
Hall in the background. [Jordan Press photo]
On Saturday night, more than 100 people lit the Chanukah candles under the stars in downtown Kingston and brought the holiday to the Jewish community and to the wider Kingston community.
The event, known as Light Up the Night, celebrated its third year, but this was its first year as a public event.
A number of members of the Jewish community had wanted to make Light Up the Night a more public event and bring it outdoors so that the wider Kingston community could take part in the candlelighting ceremony.
“The idea of lighting the chanukiyot outside under the stars appealed to us,” said Leonard Harris, an executive member of the Kingston Jewish Council, which organized the event.
“It’s part of the Kingston Jewish Council mandate to reach out to any Jewish person in the community and to improve relations with the larger non-Jewish community and help them understand us a bit,” Harris said.
“It’s a small step. If it’s successful, we’ll look at publicizing it a bit more [in the future] and making it more public.”
Skaters packed the outdoor skating rink attached to historic City Hall – the largest artificial outdoor rink in Kingston – moving along the sheet of ice as Chanukah songs played from the speakers overhead.
The Kingston Jewish Council handed out free hot chocolate and Chanukah gelt to anyone skating or milling about Springer Market Square, which has become a gathering place during the winter because of the rink. It’s also home to the province’s oldest farmers market during warmer months.
Once the candlelighting was over, people walked into City Hall and up to the second floor of the neo-classically designed limestone landmark and sat down for a Chanukah meal under the domed ceilings and the 12 stained glass windows of cavernous Memorial Hall.
“When this building opened in 1844, they could never have imagine this happening here,” Mayor Harvey Rosen said before wishing everyone a happy Chanukah from the City of Kingston.
In previous years, Light Up the Night was held at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Kingston. Jews affiliated with either of the two congregations in town and those who held no affiliation came out to take part in the candlelighting ceremony.
“The Chanukah celebration tends to attract a broad spectrum of the Jewish community,” Harris said.
The genesis of the event was in 2007 when the United Israel Appeal gave the Kingston Jewish Council money to hire a full-time co-ordinator. The extra money was welcomed – the Kingston Jewish Council has always had small budget that it used to act as an umbrella organization for all the Jewish groups in Kingston.
One of the first events co-ordinator Sheri Krell came up with was Light Up the Night.
Last year, about 100 people came out and lit candles in the dark and sang Chanukah songs.
The turnout and feedback from this year’s event will be used to decide on future plans for Light Up the Night, Harris said.
For more information on the Kingston Jewish Council, visit www.jewishkingston.org.