MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D.- Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, was early in the holiday season this year. December 6 is the last day of Hanukkah.
The Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota lit the menorah for the eighth night of Hanukkah at 2:30 on December 5. The holiday commemorates the victory of the Maccabean Jews as the regained Jerusalem and rededicated the temple more than 2100 years ago.
Only one vial of oil was left to fuel the menorah – enough for one day. But the oil burned for eight days, which is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights. There’s more to the menorah though than honoring the past.
“We light the candles outside and light them towards the evening because the message is that sometimes there could be things that are dark, things that could be outside of our life, and we want to be able to light a candle and warm that up,” explains Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, South Dakota’s only Rabbi.
Lighting the menorah at Mount Rushmore is a way for the South Dakota Jewish community to celebrate religious freedoms that come with living the United States.
“It’s really an expression of Jewish pride, that we’re able to celebrate and worship freely and openly in the public, and it’s a beautiful place to do it right here at Mount Rushmore,” Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz adds.
Hanukkah comes to an end at sunset on December 6.