menorah workshop

Eli Omer paints a handmade menorah in preparation for Hanukkah with his son, Ariel Omer, on Sunday at a workshop hosted by Chabad Jewish Center of Frederick County.

Menorah workshop attendees rang in Hanukkah with the sounds of hammers and festive music.

The Chabad Jewish Center of Frederick County held its annual menorah workshop on Sunday at the Home Depot on Urbana Pike just outside Frederick.

The event offered children and their parents a chance to make their own menorah before the Hanukkah holiday, which begins Tuesday evening and ends Dec. 20.

Chabad Rabbi Boruch Labkowski said the workshop, which drew around three dozen people, was part of the center’s community outreach and encouraged children to be creative as they celebrate.

“The holiday of Hanukkah, we like to focus on the children,” he said.

Crafting was also a chance to connect with community, according to participants.

Ian Harris, of New Market, came to the event with his 2-year-old daughter, Lilah. He said he came out because his daughter enjoys crafts and because the workshop offered a way to connect with the local Jewish community.

“We’ve fairly new to … the community,” he said, noting the family moved a few months ago. “We’re just trying to find our own Jewish community in the area.”

Missy Scherr-Phillips said the menorah making was a tradition with her family. They had participated in the event for the last four years.

Each year is different, she said. One year the children made menorahs out of PVC pipe and another they made large wooden ones that could go on top of a car.

Her daughter, Eliza Phillips, said she enjoyed the tradition.

“We have a lot of fun. We have a big collection of menorahs,” she said. “I love doing crafts and being creative.”

The sense of community was also a draw for her. Living in Emmitsburg away from a dense Jewish population, Eliza said she finds herself explaining Hanukkah and Judaism to her non-Jewish friends. Events like the menorah making offer a community where her traditions are understood.

Eliza added that she had brought non-Jewish friends to previous years’ events to share those traditions and have fun.

Chabad will continue its festivities next week. The center will host a menorah lighting and party at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Francis Scott Key Mall Value City Furniture court. It will feature crafts, latkes and donuts, and the construction of a large pasta menorah.

Hanukkah, the Hebrew word for dedication, is a Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Tradition holds that Syrian Greeks in the second century BCE tried to convert Jewish people to Greek culture, but a small band of guerrilla fighters led by Judah the Maccabee drove the Syrian Greeks from Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple.

The Jewish faithful, preparing to rededicate the temple, found only one day’s worth of oil to light the temple’s menorah, but the fuel burned for eight days. The nightly lighting of the menorah throughout the eight days of Hanukkah symbolizes the lasting oil, which the Jewish people hold to be a miracle.

Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiLoos.

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