Local Jewish Community holds event to educate public on Hanukkah

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) For weeks the Jewish community has been in the spotlight following a shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh Synagogue, but according to local Jewish Leaders, the outpouring of support from local communities has been inspiring.

And as the Jewish holiday Hanukkah enters its third day, those local Jewish leaders wanted to welcome members of the community into their synagogue Tuesday as a thank you and to share with them one of their more important traditions.

The event featured singing, traditional foods such as latkes and an 8-foot tall menorah.

"Tonight is about inviting the community in to see what we do at Hannukkah," said Carol Woodruff who helped cook for the event. "There's always a lot of interest in it, but I don't think we've ever done anything like this where we said, hey, come in, we're going to open the doors and share the traditions with you."

Because Tuesday was day 3 of the 8-day celebration, 3 candles were lit on the menorah, with each one honoring a group of people who attended the event. The first one honored the synagogue's leadership, the second was for the civic leaders of the community, and the third was for leaders of various other faiths.

"Each night you take the light of a new candle that represents the light of each person, or each group of people, and you add it's light to the other lights so that ultimately we have a much more enlightened world. That's what you saw tonight," said Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman, who led Tuesday's event.

And by welcoming others to join in through prayers and by playing with ritual toys like dreidels, members of Congregation Bayt Shalom hoped to give new insight into the story of a small group of Jews who more than 2,000 years ago gained political and religious freedom in Judea, the story the Hanukkah is in memory of.

The 8-day celebration of Hanukkah began this year on Sunday, December 2nd, and will end on Monday, December 10. ​