Menorah lighting 2018

Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, Sioux Falls, explained the significance of the Menorah lighting ceremony. Governor-elect Kristi Noem was a special guest during the indoor and outdoor facets of the ceremony held at the state Capitol. (Del Bartels/Capitol Bureau)

Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz, with the Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota, held a Menorah lighting ceremony inside and also outside the state capitol, Dec. 4.

The Jewish celebration of Chanukah, often spelled Hanukka in English,  the  is the Festival of Lights. It began the evening of Sunday, December 2, and goes through the evening of Sunday, December 10.

Alperowitz said Chanukah celebrates the first victory for religious freedom in recorded history. It celebrates the victory of light over darkness, right over might, and freedom over oppression. “The candles teach us that each day each one of us should do an act of kindness for our families, friends and entire community,” Alperowitz said.

Alperowitz asked special guest Governor-elect Kristi Noem to comment.

“That is my prayer, too, to spread more and more light,” she said.

Alperowitz said Chanukah recalls the victory of a militarily-weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and imposed restrictions on the Jewish way of life, including prohibiting religious freedom. The invaders also desecrated the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the Menorah, which was part of the daily service. When the Temple was recaptured, only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight.

In commemoration, Chanukah is celebrated for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabra called a Menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness.

The Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota, established in 2016, offers educational, cultural and holiday programs for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations.

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