Niles area congregation lights up Hanukkah
Schneur Scheiman lights the Menorah using oil pressed from olives during a Dec. 9 Hanukkah event hosted by Chabad & F.R.E.E. of Niles. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:57AM
GLENVIEW — Local families and friends welcomed Hanukkah, the festival of light, with a special gathering on Sunday that was organized by Chabad & F.R.E.E of Niles.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, over 100 people turned out for the event which took place at The Grove in Glenview and featured dinner, music, dancing and celebrating the meaning of Hanukkah. It also included an olive oil press workshop for children and their families where participants were able to hand-press fresh olives and make olive oil.
There was also a Menorah lighting to mark the second night of the Jewish holiday.
“It’s a cool experience for the kids,” said Rabbi Eliezer Hershkovich of Chabad and F.R.E.E of Niles which serves the communities of Niles, unincorporated Maine Township, Des Plaines and Morton Grove.
Hanukkah is a significant Jewish holiday because it represents the victory of “a military weak, but spiritually strong Jewish people” who successfully fought against an enemy that took over ancient Israel and aimed to stop religious freedom, according Hershkovich.
Hershkovich explained that Hanukkah’s roots date back to when the Jewish people took back the Temple from the Syrian Greeks and, though there was only enough oil to provide light for one day, it miraculously lasted for eight. This is the reason why Hanukkah is celebrated across eight nights.
“It’s a spiritual thing,” said Sandy Davis, a member of Chabad & F.R.E.E. “It’s a very happy holiday.”
For Nava Steinberg, of Des Plaines, Hanukkah represents being able to practice religious freedom without feeling oppressed. She said it is about bringing out the light in the world with good acts.
“One little good deed can really affect us more than we can imagine,” said Steinberg, a member of the synagogue for seven years and a mother of two.
During Hanukkah, Steinberg and her family sit around the table, tell stories, plays dreidel and light the Menorah.
“We look forward to it every year,” she said.
Steinberg believes that though certain things can be taken away in life, people always have their religion which is the foundation of who they are.
On Sunday, Dec. 16, Chabad & F.R.E.E of Niles will also hold a Hanukkah Wonderland celebration at the One Hope United Children’s Center, 9375 Church St. in unincorporated Maine Township from 4 to 6 p.m. The event will offer the opportunity to dress up like a Maccabee and also feature a Hanukkah dance zone, dreidel crafts, snacks and much more.
From 3 to 5 p.m. that day there will also be a grand re-opening event at the Chabad & F.R.E.E synagogue, 9401 Margail St. in Maine Township, to celebrate the completion of a renovation project. Participants will be able to take tours of the renovated synagogue.
The spirit of Hanukkah was also brought to Golf Mill Shopping Center on Niles when the Chabad & F.R.E.E held their first Menorah lighting at the mall. Hershkovich said this year was a small event, but next year they hope to make it a bigger, community event.
The synagogue also lights a Menorah outside Niles Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 9777 N. Greenwood Ave. in Niles.
Golf Mill, meanwhile, is hosting a nightly Menorah lighting through Dec. 16 at 4:45 p.m. in the Sears wing of the shopping center.