Menorah lighting Nov. 28

Concert will kick off Chanukah season in Las Cruces

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An 18-foot menorah will highlight Chabad of Las Cruces’ 12th annual Light Up Las Cruces Mega Chanukah Concert and Outdoor Menorah Lighting.

“We’re bringing light to the city,” said Alevy Chabad Jewish Center de Las Cruces co-director Rabbi Bery Schmukler.

The event will take place beginning at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, at Plaza de Las Cruces Downtown.

“Everything is free,” he said, and the entire community is invited and welcome to attend.

The rabbi said he hopes it will be “a fun family event” that also recognizes Jewish pride and an awareness of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

Chanukah 2021 begins Nov. 28 and continues through Dec. 6.

This year’s festival will be “bigger and better than ever,” Schmukler said, including a menorah that is twice as tall as before, thanks to a “very substantial grant” from the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso. The event also has backing from the City of Las Cruces, he said.

“The city’s really supportive,” Schmukler said, including the city fire and police departments.

Another attraction to this year’s event will be gourmet doughnuts and a variety of latkes, the rabbi said, including pastrami (“the real deal,” Schmuckler said), beet and sweet potato latkes, in addition to the more traditional all-purpose potato latkes.

The event will also include a performance by Jewish soul singer Tali Yess, who will combine the music of his famous father, singer Moshe Yess, his own Jewish classics and new soul songs, Schmukler said.

The Odd-Lab pyrotechnics will also be part of the event once it gets dark, Schmukler said.

There will be a gelt (chocolate coin) drop from the top of a firetruck from the Las Cruces Fire Department, the rabbi said, toys for children, a moon bounce (bounce house), arts and crafts vendors (including a booth where Chanukah decorations can be purchased), food and a build-a-dreidel workshop.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Schmuckler said. “It’s a good way to start off the holidays, especially for the Jewish community.”

“People can really have a good time,” he said. “It’s something the city deserves after such a crazy year and a half.”

Chanukah history

“In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs,” according to chabad.org. “Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God. When they sought to light the Temple's Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity,” the website said.

“It’s a beautiful message,” Schmukler said. Chanukah has “a lot of meaning that you can apply to your life,” he said. “You start with a little candle. You start small and grow.”

Call 575-524-1330. Visit www.chabadlc.org.