MILWAUKEE-- Sunday marked the first night of Hanukkah, and across Southeastern Wisconsin, Jews were getting together to celebrate the holiday.
More than 100 people kicked off the Festival of Lights with a public menorah lighting outside of Fiserv Forum hosted by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Both young and old gathered around a large menorah decorated in basketballs to watch Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry light the first candle, with a little Jewish humor.
“Hopefully the oil can last us through the NBA finals,” Lasry said.
Hanukkah celebrates religious freedom gained 2100 years ago. When the Jews went back to their temple to light the menorah they found a small amount of oil that should have lasted one night, but instead lasted eight.
To this day Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a new candle for eight days until all are shining bright.
“The menorah reminds us that what we do in the face of darkness is we add light,” Rabbi Mendel Schmotkin of Lubavitch of Wisconsin said.
For everyone the holiday can take on a different meaning.
“Bringing the whole family together. They’re not all here anymore, but we are and we know they’re with us,” Charmaine Lindberg said.
“It’s how we bring the memory back,” Linberg’s sister, Christine Peters added.
“Everyone just loves to unite, come together, spread love,” Sholom Meyer said.
“It’s really a matter of Jewish pride,” Eileen Bruskewitz said.
They were keeping traditions alive and welcoming all to join in.
“Whether you’re Jewish or not Jewish you know it’s a time to be happy. It’s the holidays,” Sonia Beame said.