Kim Roznoski of Schererville helps her daughter, Lillian, 4, finish her menorah during a workshop sponsored Dec. 6, 2012, by Chabad of Northwest Indiana at the Home Depot in Schererville, Ind. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
AT A GLANCE
† Historically, Hanukkah marks the victory of a small army of Jews over Syrian King Antiochus IV (215-164 B.C.).
† Hanukkah began this year at sunset Saturday, Dec. 8, and lasts through Sunday, Dec. 16. For prayer schedules and details on educational programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: January 13, 2013 6:12AM
Hanukkah, Chanukkah or Chanukah — the spellings might vary, but the meaning and spirit of the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights symbolize one ideal: the yearning and freedom to practice one’s faith without fear of persecution.
This belief fueled Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov, spiritual leader of Chabad of Northwest Indiana, to erect and light a 9-foot menorah outside his house of worship at 1101 Ridge Road in Munster.
One year, he even strapped a menorah to the top of his car, making all aware of this enlightening message of Hanukkah.
“It makes me proud and puts me in the spirit of Hanukkah when I see the menorah,” said Munster resident Aida Nozick, admitting that maintaining a Jewish identity during the Christmas season can be a challenge.
Families like the Nozicks are grateful to the Zalmanovs, who settled here in 2003.
Chabad, an Orthodox group in the Lubavitcher Hasidic sect, conducts educational programs that teach Judaism through a traditional approach and adherence to the commandments as stated in the Five Books of Moses, known as the Torah. This year, Zalmanov put a new twist to his Hanukkah plans by teaming up with Home Depot in Schererville. Area families and store staff recently constructed menorahs at the store.
For the 9-year-old Nozick twins, Leah and Daniel, it was a treat.
“It was really fun,” Leah said. “I was looking forward to the project for a whole week. I never built a menorah before.”
Daniel also was thrilled. He designed his menorah with red and black colors and was glad that Hanukkah now included activities involving nails, hammering and painting, plus the traditional foods of latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts).
To Zalmanov, the menorah is pivotal to the celebration.
“The main observance of the holiday is the lighting of the menorah,” he said. “This symbolizes lighting up a sometimes otherwise dark world. Every night, we add one candle to the menorah, always growing and enhancing the spiritual light around us.
“We are also celebrating the freedom to be able to practice our religion whenever and wherever we may be.”