Nearly 100 residents of varying faiths turned out for the ceremonial lighting of the Menorah on Sunday evening at the Duck Pond in Temecula.
The event, led by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz of the Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, offered guests a chance to reflect on the spirit of the holiday season among friends and fellow worshippers.
“This is the 13th time that we’ve had the Menorah lighting here in Temecula,” said Hurwitz.
Hurwitz said that, despite the chilly temperatures, his heart was warmed by the number of followers who took part in the annual festivities.
“I try my best to plan events that the Jewish community can come to,” he said. “(This) is a pretty big turnout.”
A special eight-branched menorah is used to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah. One additional candle is lit each night, until on the eighth night, all eight candles are lit.
Chanukah is often called the Festival of Lights.
Brad Hyman, 53, moved to Temecula in April and decided to come out for the evening to meet and mingle with others.
“We’re fairly new here in Temecula. We don’t have much of a connection to the Jewish community here … so we thought we’d come and check it out,” Hyman said.
“There were more people than I envisioned. But it was upbeat, pleasant and fun. I liked it quite a bit,” Hyman added.
Temecula resident Michael Turner, 63, said he was moved by Hurwitz’s message of faith and light.
“In my life, my wife and I try to celebrate both holidays. I liked the Rabbi’s (words) about the Menorah. The Menorah reflects the light in everybody’s heart,” Turner said.
As music drifted on the night air and residents made their way back to their homes and the work week, Hurwitz added: “All I want people to know is that when things seem dark, you should never think there is no hope. There is light. There is hope.”
To learn more about the Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, visit www.jewishtemecula.com.
*Daniel Lane contributed to this report.
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.