Blue lights illuminated a crowd gathered on stage at the Philip S. Miller Park Amphitheater in Castle Rock the evening of Dec. 13 as they sang in celebration of Hanukkah. While their voices rang out, a young volunteer assisted Rabbi Avraham Mintz in lighting a menorah.
Mintz, of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Metro Denver, led the event recognizing the Jewish holiday, which runs from Dec. 12-20. It was the first time the center organized a public menorah lighting in Castle Rock. Mintz hoped the event would inspire the community as a whole, including Jewish and non-Jewish people, he said.
“Hanukkah is a universal message for people of all backgrounds,” he said following the menorah lighting. “Goodness, kindness, light always outshines darkness.”
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday honoring the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following religious persecution of Jews in ancient Israel.
Those gathered for the Dec. 13 event cheered once the menorah was lit and then stayed to enjoy traditional foods like latkes, which are potato pancakes, and doughnuts. Mintz handed out Hanukkah-themed fidget spinners and greeted people with “Happy Hanukkah” throughout the night.
For Natalia Henley, the event was a special opportunity to teach her children about their heritage. Although she now lives in Founders Village, Henley was born and raised in Israel. She attended with her three children and said it was meaningful to have a menorah lighting in her new hometown.
“It's nice that I can keep it close to my heart,” Henley said, “and my customs and my traditions and expose my children to it just like I was exposed to it growing up.”
Mintz said the turnout, which he estimated to be about 50 people, was a good start. He hopes to bring it back to Castle Rock next year and see more people join the celebration then.
When asked if she'll attend, Henley excitedly replied, “Of course.”
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