HAPPY HANUKKAH: Columbia residents celebrate holiday at statehouse ceremony
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Sunday, the first night of Hanukkah began the holiday season.
Monday night, the statehouse menorah lighting celebration took place as part of the 8-day holiday.
“We are proud Jews and Americans. This message of Hanukkah speaks to both parts of our heritage,” said Rep. Beth Bernstein, a Columbia resident.
“Tonight and for the next six nights, millions of Jews around the world will light a menorah,” said Rabbi Hesh Epstein of Chabad of South Carolina.
According to the Columbia Jewish Federation, approximately 3,000 Jews currently call Columbia home.
“The Jewish community has played a role from the statehouse to the Civil Rights here in Columbia,” said Columbia mayor Daniel Rickenmann. “I want to thank you for that and let you know that we stand together.”
Standing together against anti-Semitism was part of the message of Monday’s ceremony.
The Columbia Jewish Federation director spoke about the racism in her home country of Ukraine.
“The Ukraine I was born in was part of the Soviet Union. My parents were forced to hide their Jewish identity fearing the KGB might find out,” said Ana Sazonov, who also lit the menorah. “Right now in Europe, we have one man trying to erase Ukrainian culture.”
“Earlier this year, anti-Semitic flyers were distributed in a neighborhood not five miles from the statehouse,” said Joel Lourie, former senator and Columbia resident.
Guest speaker and Columbia resident Dr. Lilly Filler spoke about hope in her message. She was born in Munich to Holocaust survivors who lived in Nazi Germany.
“Despite the fear that many families had during this time, they all gathered together around the menorah and sang Hanukkah songs,” Filler said. “They knew that the light must continue to shine.”
“This is a wonderful thing and I’m glad we have it every year. Traditions are important and this is one of the most important,” said Gov. Henry McMaster, who also attended the ceremony.
For those who stayed until the end of the ceremony, there were delicious latkes to enjoy.
Hanukkah lasts until the evening of December 26th and the fun continues all week in Columbia.
Tuesday, there will be a Hanukkah Car Menorah Parade. On Wednesday, a celebration will take place at Columbia’s Jewish Community Center.