Governor and Mayor Agree — Hanukkah is the Best Time of Year
Governor Greg Abbott lights a menorah at the Capitol. Photo credit Baila Stern.
“The custom is to light the menorah, either at a window or, as is the Chabad custom, to light in a doorway. It is just so appropriate to light this menorah here at the Capitol, the front door of Texas.” With these words, Rabbi Yosef Levertov, director of Chabad of Austin, invited Governor Greg Abbot to light the giant twelve foot Texas menorah at the entrance to the Capitol, the evening of Dec. 9.
Abbot kindled the central candle, the Shamash on the menorah. The Governor expressed his satisfaction that the lighting had grown year to year, and said, “I would like to see this become the greatest Menorah lighting in the state of Texas.”
U.S. Army Chaplain Mendy Stern turned on the first light bulb on the giant menorah. Jeffery Josephs was honored with reciting the blessings and lighting the candles of the menorah.
The next evening, Austin City Council Member Allison Alter was honored with lighting the shamash and Mayor Steve Adler kindled the menorah. Alter reminded everyone to go vote, to participate in the freedom exemplified by the menorah. Adler emphasized his appreciation for the Jewish community, particularly in the aftermath of the attack in Pittsburgh, and proclaimed, “I am very proud to be a Jew, I am proud to be the second Jewish mayor this city has had. I am proud to be in a city where one's religion is something one can be very open about, regardless of who you are.”
Public menorah lightings, and the accompanying dignitaries, have been common ever since 1974 when the Chabad Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, launched the public menorah campaign. Since then, Chabad around the world have the menorah in such prominent places as in front of the Eiffel Tower, the White House Lawn, and the Great Pyramids in Eygpt. ■