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Utah’s Jewish community prays creative Hanukkah events will bring ‘light and hope’ amid COVID-19

Rabbi Benny Zippel lights the menorah at Abravanel Hall Plaza in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, to mark the start of Hanukkah.
Rabbi Benny Zippel lights a menorah at Abravanel Hall Plaza in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, to mark the start of Hanukkah.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to kindle hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Chabad Lubavitch of Utah has creatively altered how it’s going to celebrate Hanukkah, the annual Festival of Lights, this year.

It will start with lighting the state’s tallest menorah and include Utah’s first menorah-topped car parade.

The eight-day holiday begins Dec. 10 when Gov. Gary Herbert ignites a nearly 20-foot menorah at the northeast corner of the state Capitol grounds.

“The menorah serves as a symbol of light and hope for us today amidst the darkness of the pandemic, as it did for generations before us,” Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, said in a statement. “The flames of the menorah shine out into the night, reminding us that even when confronted with much darkness, a tiny light can dispel it all. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”

The event is free and open to the community, but guests will be asked to observe from their vehicles. Due to a limited number of parking spaces in the upper parking lot, reservations can be made at utahchanukah.eventbrite.com.

The Dec. 10 event will be the first of several outdoor menorah lightings this month, part of a worldwide Hanukkah campaign observed by millions in the Jewish faith. The tradition was started in 1973 by Rabbi Menchem M. Schneerson and celebrates the central theme of victory of light over darkness.

Rabbi Benny Zippel lights the menorah, with Gov. Gary Herbert at left, during a Hanukkah celebration at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.
Rabbi Benny Zippel lights a menorah with Gov. Gary Herbert, left, during a Hanukkah celebration at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The nightly menorah lightings will take place at Abravanel Hall Plaza, 123 W. South Temple, with social distancing. There is no cost to attend. The schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 13, 6 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m.

On Sunday, Dec. 13, the fourth night, beginning at 4:45 p.m., Chabad Lubavitch of Utah will have its first car-menorah parade.

“While typically we’re able to invite Salt Lake City’s community to join our Hanukkah menorah-lighting ceremony inside the state Capitol or Vivint Arena, this year we are inviting them to participate in safely bringing Hanukkah to the streets of Salt Lake City and the homes of those unable to attend due to coronavirus,” said Rabbi Avremi Zippel, who is organizing the Hanukkah events. “The car menorah parade is a perfect way for Salt Lake City’s Jewish community to show our Jewish pride and celebrate Hanukkah during the pandemic.”

The parade will depart Chabad Lubavitch of Utah at 1760 S. 1100 East and move to the corner of West Temple and South Temple, ending at Abravanel Hall. There is no cost to be part of the parade but participants can rent car-top menorahs and reservations are required at jewishutah.com/menorahparade.

For more information, contact Rabbi Avremi Zippel at avremi@jewishutah.com or visit jewishutah.com.