Hundreds of valley residents gathered Sunday evening for the 13th annual lighting of the Menorah at the Temecula Duck Pond.
A special eight-branched Menorah is used to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah. One additional candle is lit each night, until on the eighth night, all eight candles are lit.
“It is a great night for the community to come out and celebrate not only Chanukah, but religious freedom as well," said Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz of Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula.
Chanukah celebrates the victory in 165 BCE of the Macabees, a group dedicated to fighting for the religious freedom of the Jewish people in Israel, against the Greek Assyrians, who had forbidden the open practice of Judaism.
After the victory, the Jews went to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem, but found only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. However, a miracle occurred and the oil lasted for eight days, until additional oil could be produced.
Menifee resident Lorrie Mason knows the importance of the day not just for Judaism, but all religion.
“The Menorah represents our freedoms of religion and our freedom to openly practice what we believe,’’ Mason said.
Mason also encouraged her grandchildren and daughter-in-law, Colleen Mason, to attend the event.
“My children get to learn about the Jewish faith and the history behind it,’’ Colleen said.
Completing the festivities were light refreshments, dreidels for the children were handed out and entertainment featuring the sounds of Adam Sandler.
For more information on any upcoming Chanukah events, contact Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz of Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula at 951-813-1401 or visit www.jewishtemecula.com.