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Minivan brings miracle of Hanukkah to all who ask


Throughout the week, Rabbi Elazar Green will be traveling around York County with an electric menorah on top of his minivan.

"I'm publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah," said Green, director of Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center in downtown York. "It's the miracle of religious freedom. If somebody stops me and wants to know what it's all about, I'll be happy to tell them about the miracle."

Hanukkah began at sundown yesterday and lasts eight days. It's is a celebration of religious freedom and the miracle of oil and light. For that reason, the holiday also is referred to as the festival of lights.

The miracle of Hanukkah happened more than 2,000 years ago, after the Syrians conquered Israel and desecrated the Jerusalem temple the Jews had built to honor God.

The Syrians made it a worship place for Zeus, the chief god of the Greeks. They also outlawed Judaism.

But a revolt led by Judah Maccabee resulted in Jews winning their independence.

When they rededicated the temple, only one container of sacramental oil was found, enough to last one day. Instead, it lasted eight days.

"When people ask about Hanukkah, I tell them it's a tremendous victory for religious freedom," Green said. "It's a universal lesson about freedom and tolerance."

First year in York: This is the first year the rabbi will be driving around York with his mounted menorah, though he's driven it around Lancaster, where he also directs the Chabad Jewish Awareness Center.

Both the York and Lancaster centers are part of Chabad-Lubavitch, a Jewish educational and outreach organization with more than 2,500 centers worldwide.

Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., the organization teaches love and acceptance of every Jew, regardless of their affiliations, said Green, who lives in Lancaster. Chabad is a Hebrew acronym for wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Community programs: The York center offers community lectures, youth programs, Jewish education calendars, Hanukkah and Purim celebrations, Shabbat or Sabbath dinners and services, and the shofar factory, which teaches how to manufacture and sound the shofar, a special horn.

The center hosted a Hanukkah celebration yesterday at the Jewish Community Center in York Township.

Green said he'll keep the celebration going throughout the week by driving around with his electric menorah mounted on his vehicle. He said he'll hand out menorah kits that include the menorah or candle stand, candles and a Hanukkah guide with historical information and holiday traditions.

Hanukkah is mostly observed in the home, where the family gathers at dinnertime for prayer, singing and the lighting of candles that are set on a menorah.

Each day of the celebration, a candle is placed in the menorah from right to left and then lit in the opposite direction starting with the most recent candle.

Green said he gets positive responses from people who see the electric menorah. He said he also gets calls from people requesting that he drive by their homes.

"People smile and they wish me happy holidays," he said. "The best response I get is from someone who says, 'I'd like a menorah.'"

-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 854-1575 or

Hanukkah kits, guides: Rabbi Elazar Green, director of Chabad Jewish Enrichment Center at 15 N. Cherry Lane in downtown York, will be riding around York County with an electronic menorah mounted on his vehicle to celebrate Hanukkah. He will hand out menorah kits and Hanukkah information guides. If you would like Green to stop at your home or drive through your neighborhood, call the center at 779-1117 or e-mail him at