Hanukkah at Waterloo Town Square

On the rainy evening of Tuesday December 16th there was a crowd gathered at the Waterloo Town Square for theĀ  lighting of the first candle on the 9 branch, 16 foot tall menorah.

The lighting of the Menorah.

I didn’t know what to expect from the evening. I honestly didn’t even realize that there was a public celebration that happened in the Square for this Jewish holiday, let alone one that this 6th year it has happened! My family is all about the local cultural festivals and events that happen in KW, how have we missed this for so long?

My family isn’t Jewish and we typically do not celebrate Hanukkah, although we always try to learn about the traditions of other cultures during the holiday season. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, which is also known as The Festival of Lights. The festival is the celebration of a series of miracles and of Jewish identity. During the evening everyone who spoke focused on ‘being a light’ and hoping for a better future.

The festivities where scheduled from 5:30-6:45ish. When we first arrived at the Square there was a crowed huddled under what protection they could find from the gently drifting mist. Children were sliding around in their boots on the otherwise un-skatable ice rink.

My little brother and his umbrella, braving the gentle mist!

The event got off to a slow start but once the doughnuts and latkes (traditional potato pancakes) arrived and all of the important guests said their pieces, things picked up. It was exciting to be a part of the crowd watching Rabi Goldman sing as he was hoisted into the air by a fancy skyjack type contraption in order to light the giant menorah.

The feeling of being a part of a community that is bigger than the small little world I am used to was something that was really special. Seeing the support that the leaders of our community had for this event, and how many people showed up (and have been coming out for many years) was really wonderful. It is amazing that we live in a place where we can share what we believe and how we celebrate faith, culture, and identity with a larger community, even if they don’t believe all the same things we do.

Me and my (2nd…) tasty doughnut!

Any evening that involves me eating multiple free doughnuts is great.

The festivities ended with fireworks – this might have been what brought my entire family (all 6 of us) to the conclusion that this celebration is something we want to add to our annual holiday traditions in the coming years.

I even ended up being interviewed to be on CBC Radio! I don’t know what happened with that…. I was just asked a few questions and answered as best I could. Hopefully my answers didn’t come across as flustered as I felt! I said nice things about community, from what I remember.

You can see the menorah at the Uptown Waterloo Town Square for the rest of the Hanukkah season, unfortunately I cannot guarantee that you will be able to find the same delicious doughnuts being served again until next year!

Yours,

Rachel.

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