Temple Shalom in past years held the traditional lighting of the Hanukkah menorah at either Spanish Springs Town Square or Lake Sumter Landing Market Square.
Temple President Dennis Roth on Sunday afternoon explained that the Temple Shalom leadership wanted to hold the ceremony at Brownwood Paddock Square to reach out to new residents south of State Road 44.
He was thrilled with the Brownwood audience which exceeded expectations. One Temple official said the crowd numbered more than 600.
Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein greeted the audience and explained the meaning of the holiday. Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting and special prayers. The word Hanukkah means dedication. The tradition began when Jewish patriots overthrew the Greeks who had conquered Israel during the time of Alexander. When the Jews retook the Temple they found it in disrepair and despoiled by pagan idols. While cleaning the temple, the Jews found a single cruse of oil which was still intact and carried the seal of the high priest. They used that oil in the Temple menorah even though it was only enough to light the menorah for one day. The oil burned for eight days while the Temple was rededicated.
The Temple Shalom Choir sang traditional Hanukkah songs while the Temple dancers performed folk dances. A number of young Temple members, some in costumes, helped with the lighting of the first of eight lights for the eight days of Hanukkah.