About 200 people are expected at this year’s event.
The lighting of the giant menorah highlights Hanukkah, which begins Saturday, for the Jewish community in Cherokee, north Fulton and north Cobb counties and is sponsored by the Chabad Jewish Center in Kennesaw.
“We are really celebrating that we are free to practice our religion and that is what we are doing with lighting the menorah, sending a message of light and of hope, that good will prevail over evil,” said Rabbi Zalman Charytan of the local center.
The event will be complete with gifts, treats, hot latkes, music and entertainment. This year’s event will also be used to collect toys for children in the area affected by Superstorm Sandy.
“We want to remember there are other people in the greater community who cannot celebrate the way they would like to because of Hurricane Sandy, so we have joined with a sister church to collect toys to send there those children can celebrate,” Charytan said. “We will be accepting new toys, gift cards and monetary donations and we will be shipping them on Monday to Oceanside, N.Y.,” the rabbi said.
Chanukah, or Hanukkah as it is commonly known, is an eight-day celebration for all time highlighted by the kindling of the menorah each night of the holiday.
“The holiday enriches our lives with the light of tradition,” Charytan said.
As part of the Chanukah outreach campaign, Chabad West Cobb joins thousands of Chabad centers across the globe to stage similar public displays of the menorah and its symbolic lights.
“We got started here because there were several individuals in the area who wanted to see Hanukkah more visibly celebrated. We unite the Jews and Jewish people together in our area,” Charytan said.
The Chabad has lighting ceremonies all around the world, including one on the White House lawn run by the office in Washington, he said.
From Australia to Africa, Columbia to Hong Kong, New York City’s Ground Zero to the White House Lawn, hundreds of thousands will experience the joy of Chanukah with Chabad, according to the local rabbi.
“It is a universal theme, it celebrates religious freedom and how our founding fathers in this country felt we should be able in this country to worship freely,” the rabbi said. “After hearing the expression of need here five years ago, we felt it would bring out those hidden Jews living in the area. In 2008 we were shocked at how many came that first year.
Cherokee County Commission Chair Buzz Ahrens will offer greetings and other elected officials are expected, he said.
“We will have greetings from members of the community, the rabbi will say a few words, and then we will light the giant menorah, and there will be a little surprise this year,” Charytan said.
The Chabad West Cobb Synagogue and Center for Jewish Life is located at 4255 Wade Green Road. For information call (678) 460-7702.