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Colorado's Jewish community mindful of security during public celebrations of Hanukkah

Menorahs kindled in Denver, Arvada & Centennial
Posted at 12:15 AM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-03 02:15:55-05

ARVADA, Colo.  -- Parents, grandparents and kids gathered in Olde Town Arvada Square Sunday night, to celebrate Hanukkah.

Along with the ritual lighting of the Menorah, there was a sing-along with guitarist Patrick O’Flynn, a comedy circus performance by “Dare Devil Dan,” who juggled upward of six flaming torches, and arts and crafts for the kids, who used washi decorative tape to create Menorahs and Hanukkah cards.

There was also a firetruck on hand.

Arvada firefighters tossed down foil wrapped chocolate coins to the excited kids, who were anxiously waiting for treats on the sidewalk below.

“It’s all to teach the children about the holiday, about the Menorah,” said Leah Brackman, wife of Rabbi Benjy Brackman, of the Chabad of NW Metro Denver. “It's about the fact that the candles burn for eight days.”

“Our children love everything about it,” said Jenny Miller, “from the firetruck, to the gelt (gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins,) to the music, arts and crafts.  They really enjoy it.”


Several parents and grandparents were mindful that the celebration was taking place in the public square, a little more than a month after a mass shooting at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“I’m keeping an eye on everyone who walks through that door,” one grandparent said, referring to the entrance to the arts and crafts activities room at the Arvada Public Library.

“What we’re celebrating tonight is the ability to practice one’s religion freely and unmolested,” Rabbi Brackman said. “I think coming out here tonight in beautiful Arvada, in the public square where we have the Menorah, is the greatest demonstration of that freedom.”

Brackman said his congregation feels very secure in Arvada. 

“We don’t feel any threat,” he said. “The neighbors are supportive…but on the same token, you’ve got to keep your acumen about you.  You’ve got to know what’s going on and work very closely with the local authorities.”

Brackman said they notified Arvada Police about their Hanukkah celebration.

“They have a presence,” he said, “noticeable or non-noticeable and are protecting this event as it happens.”

“It’s good that people like that grandfather and patriots are keeping an eye out and are being cautious,” said Mathew Miller, “but ultimately, you have to be able to trust the people who are in your community and hope for the best.”

“We’re trying to be aware of our surroundings,” Jenny Miller said. “We’re keeping (our children) close and are picking the events that we go to.  While it’s scary, it’s great that we are still able to gather.”

History of Hanukkah

Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish victory over the Syrian Greeks.

“After taking back the Holy Temple, they wanted to light the Menorah, but had only enough sacred oil to last for one day,” Leah Brackman said.

Miraculously, that cruse of oil lasted eight days.

“The significance of Hanukkah is really adding light to the world,” Brackman added.  “Every night, we increase the light (by lighting another candle.)  It doesn’t take much to push darkness away.  Just a little flame will do it.”