Six towns in the North East Iowa region hosted public menorah lighting ceremonies this year, arranged by shliach Rabbi Aron Schimmel. For three of them, it was the first time.
By Anash.org reporter
Six towns in the North East Iowa region hosted public menorah lighting ceremonies this year, arranged by shliach Rabbi Aron Schimmel.
Last year, Rabbi Schimmel traveled to Fairfield and La Crosse, Wisconsin, for public lighting ceremonies in addition to hosting a ceremony at his home base in Postville. This year, he doubled the number of towns on his tour, adding Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque.
“If there was an existing Jewish community in town, no matter how small, we made a public menorah lighting there,” said Rabbi Schimmel.
The events were attended by the local Jewish community, along with their spiritual leaders and public officials who were honored at the lightings. Attendees enjoyed lively chassidic music and dancing, latkas and donuts, and happily took home menorahs, dreidels and Chanukah gifts.
The menorah lightings attracted dozens of Yidden who live in those cities. “We made new connections and we plan to remain in contact with them, to continue bringing them the light of G-d and Torah,” said Rabbi Schimmel.
In Dubuque, a frustrating last minute cancellation enabled the shluchim to meet another Jew who they would not have met otherwise.
Dubuque’s new Mayor Elect had been planning to partake in the ceremony, but as the event was about to begin, he notified Rabbi Schimmel that he would not be able to attend.
“I was nervously searching for a different council member to replace him,” said Rabbi Schimmel, “when one of them suggested that we call council member Ms. Farber, since ‘she’s Jewish’! That was a big surprise for us, since we didn’t know about her.”
Ms. Farber came, lit the Menorah, and shared her Jewish family history with the rabbis. And that is how, as a result of the Mayor’s cancelation, another connection was made and another Jew was warmed by the light of Chanukah.
“One city, one person, one mitzvah at a time,” said Rabbi Schimmel. “Just like the Chanukah candles, we start with one and keep on adding more and more light with each passing day.”