Mendel, left, Rabbi Bentzi and Levi Shemtov spin dreidels in anticipation of the start of Hanukkah on Tuesday, Dec. 12. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

VIDEO: Menorah lighting in Nanaimo celebrates start of Hanukkah

Lego menorah building and doughnuts among the festivities Tuesday, Dec. 12

Nanaimo city hall will be aglow in the light from the menorah this week as Hanukkah celebrations begin.

The eight-day festival of lights, which begins Tuesday, Dec. 12, commemorates the Jewish people’s victory over a larger Syrian Greek army approximately 2,000 years ago. The Greeks had destroyed oil the used for lighting candles. A single jug of oil was found and while it was supposed to last one day, it miraculously lasted eight, according to Rabbi Bentzi Shemtov, Chabad of Nanaimo director.

The 2.7-metre menorah (nine-candle candelabra), situated at the front steps of city hall, will be lit at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by festivities at the boardroom with latkes (potato pancakes), doughnuts, a Lego menorah-building contest and dreidels.

Shemtov said there are other traditions associated with the festival in addition to the lighting of the menorah candles, which takes place every night of Hanukkah.

“In addition, there’s the dreidel, which is a little thing that we spin around and it has four letters on it,” said Shemtov. “That was during the time when the Jews were prohibited to study the Torah because it wasn’t the Greek philosophy that the Greeks wanted and Jewish children still wanted to do it and what they used to do is they would go into the woods and study it and when soldiers came, they would hide the scrolls and play the dreidel, so that was the game.”

There are four Hebrew letters on dreidels – Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin – which Shemtov said stands for ‘a big miracle happened there.’

“Then there’s the chocolate gelt. The original source of that is actually money. Giving money on Hanukkah, because on Hanukkah it’s all about education,” Shemtov said. “We try to educate ourselves and educate our children of how to be good people, how to bring light and good to the world and when you give a child money and you tell them, ‘Look, why don’t you give half to charity and half to yourself,’ it really teaches them value. It’s not all about ‘me.’”

This year, Hanukkah ends Dec. 20.

“In general, the menorah is the sign of religious freedom,” said Shemtov. “That we’re able to go out into the public and just be happy who we are. No one’s being oppressed, we’re all able to live in a multicultural community and everyone is able to practise their religion in a free and open way.”

For more information, go to

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

Just Posted

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

Swollen Members rapper Madchild to perform at the Queen’s

Rapper’s new album ‘Demons’ reflects on his struggles with drug addiction

Another section of Bruce Avenue closing for construction

New curbs, gutters, lighting installation will detour traffic to Howard Avenue for three weeks

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

Nanoose Bay residents miffed as roadwork on Northwest Bay Road causes long delays

City of Parksville announces road closure extended for a second time

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab in Surrey

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Scheer promises EI tax credit for new parents if Conservatives form government

The government currently taxes employment insurance benefits for new parents

B.C. seizes 1.5M grams contraband tobacco, down from 5.75M grams the year prior

The 2019-2020 seizures were a sharp drop compared to the 2018-2019 year,

B.C. Speaker tight-lipped about aide’s legislature security tour

B.C. Liberals question Alan Mullen’s drive across Canada, U.S.

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Parksville man, 75, goes missing from north Nanaimo home

Police dog services called in to help with search

Most Read