Heartfelt Chanukah Celebration in Fairfax City

Heartfelt Chanukah Celebration in Fairfax City

Menorah lighting, speeches, children’s activities and festive food.

Some of the many people attending the menorah-lighting ceremony.

Some of the many people attending the menorah-lighting ceremony.

The weather was cold, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming during Fairfax City’s Chanukah ceremony, last Thursday, Dec. 7, in Old Town Square. Parents, children and local dignitaries alike gathered for the lighting of the menorah on the first night of Chanukah. 

It was hosted by the City and put on by Fairfax-based Chabad Lubavitch of Northern Virginia and the Pozez Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Northern Virginia. Attendees sang Chanukah songs, feasted on potato latkes, jelly doughnuts and hot chocolate. And the children colored pictures of dreidels, tried to guess how many dreidels were in a bowl, and were thrilled when the sky-high ladder of a fire engine dropped gelt (gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins) for them to catch and eat.

At the outset, Rabbi Sholom Deitsch of Chabad Lubavitch welcomed everyone to the annual menorah lighting in Fairfax City and thanked City officials for holding it. “This year, of course, Chanukah has a lot more meaning for all of us,” he said. “Everything that’s going on in Israel [the current war with Hamas] is on our minds.”

Before the ceremony began, shortly after sundown, attendees enjoyed jelly doughnuts, potato latkes and hot chocolate. 


“The message of Chanukah – in connection to what’s happening in Israel – can’t be more clear,” he continued. “And the message is that darkness has no home. Darkness is not real. All you have to do is bring a little candle into a room, and the darkness runs away.

“Let’s remember that each one of us can do another act and be a candle. And what we do impacts locally and globally. Tonight is Chanukah; it’s a very beautiful and unique mitzvah [good deed], and that is to light the menorah – bring lightness. Bring light into your heart, bring light into your house, bring light into your community, and bring light into the world.”

Deitsch then invited Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read to speak. She began by welcoming the crowd of more than 150 people to the ceremony. “I can’t think of a better reason for us to be standing out here in the freezing cold than the first night of Chanukah,” she said. “And I loved the rabbi’s message that we can all be a candle in this world. All of us can do something. We all have the power to lead by example to shine light in this world.”

Read then asked attendees to “Consider how the sun moves across the globe. And as we light the menorah tonight – in towns and cities from here to Hawaii, in communities just like ours, gatherings like this – we will come together.” She said people will join with the Jewish community and with those who support them, and “From sea to shining sea, menorahs will be lit across America. There is more that we share than the things that divide us – and we must stand together.”

Next, Rabbi Jeff Dannick, executive director of the Pozez JCC, thanked everyone for coming to this menorah lighting. “I look forward to Chanukah every year, but particularly night number one, when I get to come out with my friend, Rabbi Deitsch, and to have this special event in Fairfax City.”

“As you heard, these events happen all over the country, all over the world, and throughout the eight nights of Chanukah,” continued Dannick. “Another one is happening on Dec. 14 in the Mosaic District. Please come and celebrate Chanukah with us, as many times as you can. And when you’re not with us, make sure you’re doing it at home with your families, as well.”

Speaking last was Supervisor James Walkinshaw (D-Braddock). “You all know the literal translation of Chanukah is ‘rededicate,’” he said. “And what an opportunity, tonight and throughout Chanukah, to rededicate ourselves to our shared values of love, compassion and humanity. And I know that Northern Virginia’s Jewish community does that 365 days of the year at the JCC and elsewhere. Thank you for being such a valuable part of our community, and I’m so honored to be here with you, this evening.”

Then Deitsch lit the menorah’s center candle, the shamash, before leading the crowd in saying blessings in Hebrew and in singing Chanukah songs such as, “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel.” And at one point, Dannick linked arms with Deitsch and the two rabbis danced in a circle to that tune. Deitsch then lit just one other candle to symbolize the first night of Chanukah and the festivities continued.