Spirited Jewish Rabbi Shalom Bochner brought greetings to members of the Manteca faithful at dusk Tuesday with a “Happy Chanukah from the Congregation of Beth Shalom” – the center for Jewish Life in Greater Modesto and throughout Stanislaus County.
The rabbi showed a definite excitement that more followers had come to attend the lighting of the first two candles this year on a menorah in Library Park in downtown Manteca. Bochner led the group of just under two dozen in a series of traditional religious songs beginning with “Rock of Ages,” as he played his guitar.
“Maybe it’s time to dedicate ourselves and spread the light and the word,” the Rabbi said. “We give thanks for the many miracles along with just waking up every day.”
The Chanukah Candle Blessings come with one lighted candle added to the Chanukah Menorah that will be followed each night until eight candles are finally lit. The following song was sung by everyone present with the ceremonial lighting:
‘Blessed are You, The One, our God, ruler of the universe who has sanctified us with the mitzvoth and instructed us to light the lights of the Chanukah, Amen. Blessed are You, The One, our God, guider of the universe who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time, Amen. Blessed are You, The One our God, life of the universe who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.”
The Jewish people say the lights commemorate the saving acts, miracles and wonders which God has performed for their ancestors, in those days and at this time, through the holy Cohanim (Temple Priests). Throughout the eight days of Chanukah, the lights are regarded as sacred and no one is permitted to make use of them but only look at them.
When the ceremony was completed the group retired to the Manteca Senior Center for a series of religious videos and games to mark the occasion.
The rabbi said his family had come from Berlin and were able to flee Germany on the eve of World War II coming to America. His dad signed up for the American military and returned to his homeland as a U.S. soldier.
Rabbi Bochner explained there is no synagogue in Manteca due to the very low concentration of residents following the Jewish religion or about 150 of the city’s 76,000 residents.
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