Vail Chabad digs deep to help Jewish community find the oil, light this Hanukkah
For Rabbi Dovid Mintz, of the Jewish Community Center Chabad of Vail, Hanukkah is about spreading faith and light every year. That constant desire to persevere forward despite adversity is what keeps him going every day, but it’s been especially relevant this year.
“Hanukkah, this year, perhaps is more important than any other year. There are so many challenges that are facing us, health, financial, people are homebound. It’s our responsibility, at the JCC, to dig deep and to find the oil. That’s the miracle of Hanukkah.”
The Jewish Festival of Lights, occurring this year from Thursday, Dec. 10 to Friday, Dec. 18 this year, celebrates a group of Jewish people 2,000 years ago, who took back a temple after experiencing oppression from Syrian Greeks. They only had enough oil to light the menorah for one day, but the oil miraculously lasted eight days. This is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days and why families light candles in the menorah, one for each day the oil lasted.
“We have to find that oil within each and every one of us. We have to transform the darkness into light,” Mintz said. “A lot of people are dealing with tremendous pressure and difficult hardships, being squeezed yeah in different ways. Nonetheless, you see the beauty of what we are doing and so many others are doing. We are not allowing it to get to us, even though we are being squeezed. We are taking that oil and using it for the good.”
The JCC traditionally offers fun events leading up to and during each of the eight days of Hanukkah, culminating in a big party at the Four Seasons. This year, those events aren’t taking place for obvious reasons, but Mintz is naturally pushing forward.
“We’re not just you know sitting back and waiting for the pandemic to write itself out,” he said. “We’re trying to be the most safe, healthy and following orders. I like to say it’s going to be even safer than being on the gondola together.”
Each event has been designed to keep guests safe, with required social distancing and mask-wearing. JCC kicks off Hanukkah with a menorah lighting at the Edwards Riverwalk, near the movie theater. They will serve pre-packaged latkes and other goodies, as well as hand out toys to kids in attendance. On Friday, reserve and pick up prepared boxes of latkes and matzo ball soup from the center in Lionshead for Shabbat dinner on Saturday. On Sunday, there will be another menorah lighting by the Arrabelle Hotel in Lionshead.
They’ll also host virtual storytimes in conjunction with the Vail Public Library on Monday, Dec. 14 and Wednesday, Dec. 16. Teens will also get a slice of the fun, getting a craft supply box delivered to their homes: they’ll get to build their own menorah. The holiday culminates with the Beyond the Flame virtual menorah lighting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18, featuring presentations on the history and traditions of Hanukkah. At the end, everyone will light the final candle together.
“If I give you a little bit of light from my candle, my candle stays the same and yours gets lit as well. This brings more light into the world,” Mintz said. “We’ll have that ripple effect.”
Mintz also wants to assure Jewish people, whether locals, part-timers or vacationers, that Chabad is there to help. They are happy to provide menorahs, candles or anything families need to celebrate Hanukkah.
“We are here for anybody,” he said. “That’s our job. That’s our responsibility.”
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