Flint Chabad sees growing engagement and expands to meet local need.
Congregation Chabad House – Lubavitch of Eastern Michigan, will light a 22-foot public Chanukah menorah at Shea Automotive (2100 Linden Road, Flint) at 5 p.m. Dec. 19, the second night of the eight-day Festival of Lights.
The community will be joined by prosecuting attorney for Genesee County David Leyton, Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. The event will also feature delicious holiday foods and hot soup. Complimentary Chanukah menorahs and candles will be distributed as well for participants to light at home.
The large-scale, in-person public Chanukah celebration returns to Genesee County after a nearly two-year hiatus, and record numbers of participants are expected to join Chabad of Eastern Michigan’s menorah lighting this year.
Thirty-seven years ago, Rabbi Yisroel Weingarten and his wife, Shainie, moved from Brooklyn to meet the needs of the Flint Jewish community. One of Weingarten’s first and largest functions was erecting Eastern Michigan’s largest menorah 36 years ago.
“Everyone is especially excited about Chanukah this year,” said Mrs. Shainie Weingarten, co-director of Chabad of Eastern Michigan. “People are preparing to celebrate with family and friends, to fill their homes with the light of Chanukah, and there’s a palpable joy. The public Chanukah celebration is about sharing this light and joy with the broader community and the entire Genesee County.”
A Global Chanukah Awareness Campaign
Chanukah emphasizes that each and every individual has the unique power to illuminate the entire world. It was to encourage this profound idea that the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched the Chanukah awareness campaign in 1973, of which Flint’s public Chanukah activities are a part of.
Chabad-Lubavitch’s annual Chanukah campaign has distributed millions of menorahs to Jews around the world, and erected thousands of public menorahs to share its universal message of light over darkness with humanity at large. This year’s Chanukah campaign will be one of unprecedented light and joy, seeing Chabad reach
8 million Jews in more than 100 countries.
This year’s Chanukah campaign comes amid a growing awareness of Chabad-Lubavitch’s indelible impact on Jewish life. Pew Research Center’s 2020 survey of Jewish Americans showed that 38 percent of all American Jews have participated in Chabad activities and services, of whom more than 75 percent do not identify as Orthodox.
Indeed, during the pandemic, demand for Chabad of Eastern Michigan’s religious, humanitarian and educational services skyrocketed, and Chabad met Genesee County’s needs with social services and elderly care. “We’ve seen a massive uptick in the level of engagement over the last year and a half,” said Rabbi Israel Weingarten.
The menorah’s power is especially felt when it is lit with joy and enthusiasm, as it will be this year, with added appreciation for the blessing of being able to gather once again as a community and celebrate together.