The candles will shine bright Monday night when Chabad of San Marcos Director Rabbi Ari Weingarten lights a six-foot Menorah at 5:30 p.m. at the Main Plaza in downtown New Braunfels in the face of rising anti-Semitism sparked by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas terrorists in the Middle East.
Jewish groups across the country are canceling their public celebrations of Hannukah, an eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods.
Monday’s event in New Braunfels commemorates a different victory against hate and bigotry during a second-century war between a small group of Jews called the Maccabees and the Syrians.
Weingarten won’t “duck out” either.
“The Jewish response to darkness is to be strong, united and proud,” he said. “We don’t fight darkness with darkness, we increase in light. We increase in unity.”
In a statement, Weingarten explained, “It is especially important for us to gather in peace to celebrate the holiday of light when the darkness of hate and bigotry rears its ugly head…The story of Hanukkah is the quintessential example of this…today we are committed to follow the example shown in the times of Chanukah (Hannukah) and join together with strength and determination to be a voice of goodness and kindness and a light during these difficult times.”
Neither the New Braunfels Police Department nor the Comal County Sheriff’s Office would comment about a possible increased security presence during the candle lighting.
Chabad of San Marcos also plans public Menorah lightings across the I-35 corridor including San Marcos, Wimberley and Kyle “as we do annually.”
Monday’s celebration includes donuts and activities for children.