Hundreds attend Hanukkah celebration at Ventura Harbor Village

  • By Jannette Jauregui
  • Posted December 26, 2011 at 7:14 p.m.

Nine years ago, the rabbis representing the Chabad Jewish Centers of Ventura County joined to organize Chanukah at the Harbor, a celebration designed to bring local Jewish communities together.

On Monday at Ventura Harbor Village, more than 200 guests celebrated the Jewish holiday with a 10,000-pound hill of snow, music, dancing, a Judaica boutique, potato pancakes, kosher doughnuts and magic acts by "The Amazing Chris."

The event concluded with the lighting of a 20-foot menorah, marking the seventh night of the Chanukah celebration.

"It is very important for Jewish people to feel a sense of pride in their heritage," said Rabbi Dov Muchnik of the Chabad of Oxnard. "By gathering together to celebrate the holiday in a fun and meaningful way, we are educating the next generation about our traditions and also instilling a strong sense of Jewish identity."

"This event represents a wonderful opportunity for us to spread the message of Hanukkah — a reconfirmation of faith and hope," Muchnik added. On Thursday, the Chabad Jewish Centers of Ventura County held Hanukkah at the Mall, sponsored by Pacific View mall.

"We want to promote Jewish identity," said Rabbi Yakov Latowicz of the Chabad of Ventura. "It's the wonderful thing about America. You can be proud to be who you are."

Joel Simon, a former resident of Ventura, attended Monday's event with his three children.

"It's nice to have a chance to get together as a community and have the kids have fun at the same time," Simon said.

Chanukah at the Harbor was free. Funding was provided by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ventura County.

"This story [of Chanukah] continues to resonate for us today," Muchnik said. "With just a small measure of light — a few kind words, a mitzvah or a good deed — we can make a huge difference in someone else's life and ultimately in the world around us."

More than 2,000 years ago, the Jewish community in Israel regained control of and rededicated the Temple. Jews lit the menorah, expecting the oil to last one day. Eight nights later the candles went out. Today the celebration of Hanukkah serves as a time of holy remembrance and celebration.