A group of more than 100 community members spread light and kindness in Gresham Sunday evening, Nov 28, as a 12-foot-tall menorah was publicly lit for the first time in East Multnomah County.
A 5 p.m. Hanukkah Celebration at the Gresham Arts Plaza, 401 N.E. Second St., marked the start of the eight-day Jewish holiday.
"Tonight's event is truly a dream come true," said Rabbi Avrohom Dyce. "The more goodness we spread, the more goodness we have."
The gathering, which was free and open to all, featured the menorah lighting, a giant inflatable dreidel, music, candy gelt — gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins — and dreidels. There were also donuts, Jewish calendars and other giveaways. It was all put together by the Gresham Chabad Jewish Center, founded by Rabbi Dyce and his wife Cheina.
"We are very excited to meet more locals of Gresham, more Jewish people in the area, to hear what activities they would appreciate," Rabbi Dyce said. "We can bring even more goodness, kindness, spirituality and light to East County."
During the gathering, Gresham City Councilor Janine Gladfelter read a city proclamation honoring Hanukkah and the public lighting on behalf of Mayor Travis Stovall and the rest of council.
It is fitting Hanukkah fell so close to Thanksgiving this year, as the two holidays share many of the same values.
"Both festivals are about recognizing the good in our life and giving gratitude for all the good things we have in our lives," said Rabbi Dyce.
Hanukkah is celebrated yearly during the winter months and lasts for eight days. It marks the miracle of a one-day supply of lamp oil lasting eight nights during a conflict attempting to suppress Judaism in the second century B.C.
The festival includes nightly lightings of the menorah candelabra, and a large part of Hanukkah is spending time with family. The holiday places children at the forefront, with gifts of money and playing games.
The public lightings began in 1970s New York, spurred by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. Since then more than 5,000 large, public menorahs are lit every year across more than 100 countries. Lightings take place in front of landmarks like the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, and now the Gresham Arts Plaza.
"In the past menorahs had to be hidden indoors, away from others who spread hate," Rabbi Dyce said. "Today we celebrate our cherished traditions out in the open, with our community."
The plan is to make the Gresham menorah lighting an annual tradition. Learn more online at jewishgresham.com.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.