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Hanukkah celebration a 'historic event' for Woodlands Jewish community

Monday, 26 December, 2011 - 10:21 pm

SOURCE + Photos: YourHoustonNews.com

 By Matt Stephens Houston Community Newspapers

 

In front of a crowd of more than a hundred at the Market Street, Rabbi Mendel Blechler’s message was of the power of the Jewish faith, on how the legend of the Maccabee’s oil supply lasting for eight days has outlived the Maccabee’s military victory over the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.

“Strength founded in spiritual light and faith in God can never be destroyed,” Blechler said.

Blechler lit the nine-foot-tall Menorah at the center of Market Street in The Woodlands Thursday night as dozens of onlookers repeated the Hebrew chants, marking the third day of Hanukkah. Although a great event for the Jewish community, this one is perhaps more special for those in The Woodlands because it was the township’s first Menorah lighting.

The Chabad of The Woodlands, a local branch of a larger group which places an emphasis on intellectual study and an emotional attachment to faith, began in March and has already reached out to the Jewish community. While Mechler said the number of Jews in The Woodlands area is “larger than you’d think,” he also saw and visited with a number of new faces Thursday night.

“Our main mission is to reach out to unaffiliated Jews and reacquaint them to their roots,” Blechler said.

He believes Hanukkah is an event which brings together people of Jewish faith who may not practice the rest of the year, but want to acknowledge and celebrate their faith around the holidays. Blechler said it is the only holiday for which it is a commandment to publicize, which is why it is so special to the religion and its followers.

“It is more than exciting. It is an unbelievable feeling,” said Ron Tager, a Jewish resident of The Woodlands for seven years. “The first I heard about the fact that they (the Chabad) are here, I got the chills.”

Tager admitted he is “not a religious person,” but since the Chabad came to the area, he has attended a few events. His daughter was even volunteering to help the Menorah lighting on Thursday, and his wife came with him. An Israeli native, Tager said it meant a lot to him to have an outlet for his faith and to have a group which brings together the local Jewish community.

“People that we have told about (the Menorah lighting) are absolutely excited about this. It’s a historic event to host a Menorah lighting in The Woodlands,” Rabbi Blechler said.

Danny Gavin, a musician at the event and a rabbi himself from Houston, said he has noticed a growth in the number of Menorah lightings in the Houston area over the years and has attended a few this year already. Along with The Woodlands event, he said there were lightings at the Memorial City Mall, at Sugar Land City Hall, at the Galleria and in Pearland, Kingwood and Clear Lake City.

“It’s a very public holiday,” Gavin said. “It gives us a little bit of hope and energy during the holidays.”

The Menorah lighting is significant for The Woodlands Township, as well as the local Jewish community. Township Chair Bruce Tough spoke at the lighting and praised the community’s religious diversity, with the Menorah lighting taking place only a few hundred feet from Market Street’s Christmas tree.

“This is what we’re all about,” Tough said. “We’re such a religiously diverse community. We celebrate our diversity and embrace it.”

For more information on the Chabad of The Woodlands, go to www.jewishwoodlands.com.

 

 

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7/10/2012

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