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To celebrate Hanukkah, a 22-foot menorah lights up Boston Common

The 22-foot menorah on Boston Common.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

A 22-foot menorah lit up Boston Common on Sunday night, marking the second night of Hanukkah with a grand celebration.

Nearly 100 people gathered around the menorah around 4 p.m., as the sun began to set. Children danced to festive music, and Rabbi Yosef Zaklos, director of Chabad of Downtown Boston, told the crowd about the meaning of Hanukkah.

“Lighting the Hanukkah menorah reminds us and serves a symbol for the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, and of light over darkness,” he said before lighting the menorah.

“I encourage each and every one of you to take that little candle within, that light, that goodness that you have within, and share it with others,” he continued.


“A little bit more goodness and kindness will definitely tip the scale. It’s just one candle, but collectively, before you know it, the entire world is bright.”

In its 33rd year near the MBTA’s Park Street station, the annual candlelighting ceremonies are put together by Chabad of Downtown Boston and the Chabad House of Greater Boston, an Orthodox Jewish movement.

Sunday’s ceremony was geared toward families, with music playing in the background and traditional Hanukkah gelt, or chocolate coins, given to children.

Dinah Berch, who came to the program with her husband, Joshua, and 2-year-old daughter, Kira, said their family gives small gifts to one another, but they also try to focus on giving back to the community.

“It’s always been the root of a lot of Judaism is giving back and being aware of the people who are more needy than you,” said Berch, who lives in Quincy.

“It’s a really central tenet.”

Berch said the public candlelightings bring all sects of Judaism together, in addition to non-Jewish or nonobservant community members.

“It’s a nice reminder that we’re here,” she said. “It’s a nice public display of public solidarity, and it’s a fun, easy one for kids.”


Alex and Jelena Stolyarov of Belmont attended the candlelighting ceremony with their two children, ages 3 and 8 months.

Alex said both the Hanukkah traditions and Jewish heritage are important for him to pass down to his children.

“It’s another occasion to let my kids know about Jewish traditions,” he said. “I want them to know a little bit about what Judaism is. It’s part of who we are.”

Itamar Benzimra, who is originally from Israel and now lives in Boston, played the clarinet at Sunday’s ceremony. He said creating new arrangements for the Hanukkah songs he played is a way to bring “the old holiday tradition in a new way.”

His friend Joseph Melnicove, who played the flute at Sunday’s ceremony, said lighting the menorah at Boston Common is a way to celebrate the holiday season in an inclusive environment.

“It’s important just to represent the different holidays of everybody,” he said. “You have stuff for Christmas and stuff for Hanukkah, so nobody feels out of place.”

Rabbi Yosef Zaklos of Chabad of Downtown Boston danced with his children Mendel, 5 (left), and Mussia, 4. Zaklos led the lighting event Sunday.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.