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Howard celebrates Festival of Lights this week with menorah lightings and other special events

Five 9-foot steel menorahs and one menorah made of ice will be lit this week in Howard County to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights (also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah), an eight-day commemoration of rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.

This year, Hanukkah began on Sunday, Nov. 28 and is celebrated through Dec. 6.

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In Howard County, residents will mark the holy week with menorah lightings and family events featuring live music, a gelt (chocolate) drop and ice skating. Traditional food, including latkes and doughnuts, will also be available.

Hailey, 8, and her brother, Adam Freed, 7, of Columbia, with the created menorahs Nov. 21 during a celebration at Chabad of Ellicott City.
Hailey, 8, and her brother, Adam Freed, 7, of Columbia, with the created menorahs Nov. 21 during a celebration at Chabad of Ellicott City. (Katie V. Jones / HANDOUT)

“A lot of communities are not used to this concept of having a menorah up in public places,” said Rabbi Yanky Baron of Chabad of Ellicott City, a branch of Chabad Lubavitch of Howard County. “[In] Howard County … everyone wanted to be a part of it.”

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Through partnerships with Turf Valley Towne Center, Ellicott City Partnership, Howard Hughes Corp., and others, Chabad Lubavitch of Howard County organized menorah lightings in River Hill Village Center, Dorsey’s Search Village Center, Arbor Terrace, Turf Valley Towne Square and Thomas Isaac Log Cabin.

On the eighth night of Hanukkah (Sunday), ColorBurst Park in Columbia’s Merriweather District will host an ice menorah lighting for the first time.

“It’s a new venue,” Baron said. “Kids [and even adults] can come and skate.”

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is scheduled to appear at both the ColorBurst Park lighting and at the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin menorah lighting Friday in Ellicott City.

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“The Ellicott City Partnership nicely included us as part of their Midnight Madness festivities,” said Baron, noting the menorah lighting will be celebrated at 3 p.m., before the official start of Midnight Madness at 5:30 p.m.

Hanukkah parties are also planned on Tuesday at the Ellicott City 50+ center, on Thursday at Chabad of Ellicott City and on Sunday at the Lubavitch Center in Columbia.

Baron said celebrating the festival of lights has special meaning for him and for the community as a whole.

“The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness.”


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“The message is ... as it gets cold and dark, you light a small candle and it dispels a lot of darkness,” Baron said. “The nature of light is that it is always victorious over darkness.”

On Nov. 21, families gathered at Chabad of Ellicott City to make their own menorahs in preparation for the holiday.

“When it is the first night, we light a candle here and here,” explained Hailey Freed, 8, of Columbia, as she pointed to her multi-colored menorah. “We then get to play a game called dreidel.”

While Hailey can easily explain each of the spinning dreidel’s symbols, she prefers to sing about it in a jingle by the Maccabeats that follows the tune of “Dynamite,” by Taio Cruz.

“Sayin’ ay oh, spin the dreidel,” sang Hailey, with her brother Adam, 7, joining in. “Just wanna celebrate for all eight nights singin’ ay oh, light the candles.”

Bryan Hildenbrand of Ellicott City also joined his children to make menorahs and learn about Hanukkah.

“We want to make sure they get as much exposure as they can to their heritage and culture and I’m learning along with them,” said Hildenbrand, who is converting to Judaism. “This is a very nice, very welcoming place. I am enjoying the experience of learning with my children.”

Chabad Lubavitch of Howard County “put a lot of effort” into structuring its programs with its partners to offer something for everyone in the community, Baron said.

“Howard County is a very diverse place,” Baron said. “I thank God every day for living in such a wonderful place.”

Hanukkah events in Howard County:

Nov. 29: Menorah Lighting at River Hill Village Center, 6050 Daybreak Circle, Clarksville. Doughnuts, latkes, music and prizes. 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 30: Chanukah Party at Ellicott City 50+ Center, 9401 Frederick Road, Ellicott City. Doughnuts, latkes, music, interactive Hanukkah story and a doughnut tasting competition. 11 a.m.

Nov. 30: Menorah lighting at Dorsey’s Search Village Center, 4765 Dorsey Hall Drive, Ellicott City. Doughnuts, latkes, music and prizes. 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 1: Menorah lighting and gelt drop at Arbor Terrace in Maple Lawn, 11585 Scaggsville, Fulton. 5:30 p.m.

Dec. 2: Menorah lighting at the Turf Valley Towne Square, 11075 Resort Road, Ellicott City. Donuts, latkes music and prizes. 3 p.m.

Dec. 2: Chanukah party at Chabad Ellicott City, 9785 Route 99, Ellicott City. 6 p.m.

Dec. 3: Menorah lighting at Thomas Isaac Log Cabin, corner of 8394 Main St. and Ellicott Mills Road, Ellicott City. Latkes, music. 3 p.m.

Dec. 5: Outdoor ice menorah lighting and ice skating at Merriweather District Color Burst Park. Doughnuts, latkes, music, prizes and more. 4 p.m.

Dec. 5: Chanukah party at Lubavitch Center Columbia, 770 Howes Lane, Columbia. 7 p.m.

Leah Baron of Chabad of Ellicott City (second from left) helps Rose Dubois, 4, of Columbia and Sorale Sufrin, 9, and Leah Sufrin, 7, both of Clarksville, to paint their menorahs at the Nov. 21 party.
Leah Baron of Chabad of Ellicott City (second from left) helps Rose Dubois, 4, of Columbia and Sorale Sufrin, 9, and Leah Sufrin, 7, both of Clarksville, to paint their menorahs at the Nov. 21 party. (Katie V. Jones / HANDOUT)
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