The Celebration of Lights begins Tuesday - The Villages Daily Sun: News

The Celebration of Lights begins Tuesday

By Lisa Lawson, Daily Sun Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017 8:00 am

A wedding gift Paige and Rich Udell received 43 years ago still lights up their lives with joy.

“We were given a menorah as a wedding gift,” Paige said. “We have used it every year.”

The Village of Winifred couple will light that menorah again this year, starting Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish holiday celebrated in December with the nightly lighting of candles on a menorah. According to the Chabad-Lubavitch organization, the holiday lasts for eight nights to commemorate the miracle of a one-day ration of oil that lasted eight days in second century B.C.

“(Hanukkah) is about bringing light to the darkness,” said Rabbi Yossi Hecht.

He and his wife, Chanie, lead the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Center of Ocala and The Villages.

Light first comes from the shamash, the center candle, and it is then used to light a candle each night. As the candles are lit, the Hanukkah blessing is sung and the worshippers are reminded of the oil that burned thousands of years ago.

“We do this in honor of the miracle,” Chanie said. “It’s definitely something many people look forward to.”

Helena Stone, a Village of Liberty Park resident and member of the Chabad, said she usually helps Chanie prepare traditional food, like latkes and jelly doughnuts, for the Hanukkah celebration.

“The latkes and jelly doughnuts are something my kids and grandchildren still ask me to make today,” Stone said.

Rabbi Mel Glazer, leader of Temple Shalom of Central Florida, said Hanukkah is thought of by many to be the Jewish equivalent of Christmas because both holidays are celebrated in December with the exchanging of gifts.

“Both celebrations give all of us an opportunity to add light to the world,” Glazer said. “There is a lot of bad stuff in the world, and Hanukkah reminds us to have hope and create a better world.”

Nadia Skertich-Lester, special events manager for The Villages Entertainment and Special Events, said there are menorahs set up at each square for the holiday. Starting Tuesday, members of Temple Shalom will light one candle for each night of Hanukkah.

“The Villages Entertainment has worked with Temple Shalom for many years to ensure everyone has the opportunity to celebrate Hanukkah with a wonderful, traditional ceremony featuring inspirational readings, traditional singing and dancing, as well as the official lighting of the first candles of the menorah,” Skertich-Lester said.

Along with the menorah lighting, traditional foods will be prepared.

“All foods prepared this day are cooked in oil to commemorate the oil that burned,” Chanie said.

David Isenberg, president of The Villages South Jewish Chavurah, said his group provides a community for Jewish people to gather and celebrate.

“Our annual event is sold out, but it’s a celebration of a candle lighting ceremony,” the Village of Lake Deaton resident said. “We also have entertainment, traditional foods, a gift exchange and we also play games. Each family will do their own thing at home.”

At the Udell’s home, they’ll be lighting their decades-old menorah through Dec. 19, the final night of Hanukkah, adding another year of memories to their long-cherished gift.

Lisa Lawson is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5304, or

Hanukkah Candle Lighting hosted by Temple Shalom

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Spanish Springs Town Square

Free and open to the public.

For more information, call 352-748-1800


Chanukah Party

When: 5:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Chabad House, 13030 County Road 103 in Oxford

Free and open to the public.

For more information, call 352-330-4466