With all the negative news circulating, I thought it's time someone lightened the mood a little
Third day of Jewish holiday extra festive
Bell Tower Shops hosts traditions; crafts made at Coralwood Mall
By MICHELLE L. START
Originally posted on December 18, 2006
Fun, family and festivities Sunday marked the third day of Hanukkah as celebrations were held in both south Fort Myers and Cape Coral.
"This is very nice. A lot of people don't see what Jewish people see," said Ellen Wall, 48, of Lehigh Acres. "It's nice to see the community get together."
Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Florida's Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz said it was the 15th year festivities were organized by his temple and the 13th year at Bell Tower Shops in south Fort Myers.
"This is nice, upscale and centrally located," he said. "Every year it gets bigger and better. We get a steady flow of people throughout the day."
Hanukkah celebrates the successful revolt more than 2,000 years ago by Judah Maccabees and his followers, and the miracle that followed.
The Jewish believe that after the Maccabees reclaimed and cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and removed the Greek idols there, they discovered that there was only enough oil to light the Eternal Lamp for one day. But because of a miracle, the lamp burned for eight days â€” giving them enough time to replenish the supply.
To commemorate that miracle, those of the Jewish faith light one candle on the menorah on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.
There are about 12,000 Jewish residents in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties.
More than 1,000 people gathered for the festivities, which included a preview of an album being released by Lawrence Dermer and family members.
Dermer has produced albums for Madonna, Cher, Diana Ross and a slew of other recording artists, but has only recently stepped in front of the microphone himself.
The entire album is inspired by Jewish traditions and is still being compiled.
Matt Charter traveled along with wife Anat and daughter Eliya from Tel-Aviv, Israel, to visit family, who are scattered throughout Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres.
"It's a lot different here from there," Charter said. "You have Christmas lights."
In Florida, you feel Jewish, Anat Charter said. She said one doesn't notice the difference in Israel where the majority of people practice Judaism. However, here, the majority of people are Christian, she said, which makes the Jewish community closer knit.
After lighting the menorah, the traditional dreidel song played and women held hands, dancing around a water fountain.
A dreidel is a small clay top. Families play traditional games with it.
Two hours later, nearly 100 people began to gather at Coralwood Mall in Cape Coral for a Hanukkah celebration.
Todd Eitnier, 39, of Cape Coral, attended the Bell Tower celebration and was driving home when he noticed the Coralwood celebration.
"This was the first time I knew this function was even here," he said.
At a craft table, Luba Greenberg, 29, taught children how to make a miniature menorah.
"You take a stick and glue on these bolts," she said. "Make eight in a straight line. Actually, it's nine with the one in the middle a little taller. The actual miracle was eight days, but the ninth is the one we take out to light the rest of them."
Although not Jewish, Caloosa Middle School student Johnny Ferguson, 12, learned about the celebration through his language arts teacher, Ms. Crouser, and wanted to see what it was about.
"He saw it and was interested," said his mother, Michele Andre, 41.
"I'm just seeing how they do stuff," he said.