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Drive in menorah lighting being held at the Utah State Capitol

FILE -- Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah conducts the ceremony as the lighting of a menorah in the state Capitol rotunda marks the first night of Hanukkah in Salt Lake City Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – The Hanukkah celebration at the Utah State Capitol on Thursday will be like no other before. The annual menorah lighting is being held “drive-in” style. 

Usually, people gather under the Capitol rotunda for the lighting of the menorah. However, organizers had to rethink things this year because of COVID-19.

They will install the largest menorah in the history of Utah in Upper Parking Lot A on the east side of the capitol. People who want to see it can drive in and watch it get lit up from their cars. 

Rabbi Benny Zippel, the Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, feels holding a drive-in style event upholds Jewish law while keeping everyone safe. 

“We don’t cancel the holiday but, at the same time, we don’t compromise our lives,” Rabbi Zippel said. “We believe that it was our duty to find a way to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah in the same way we’ve celebrated it until now, while not compromising the safety of the participants.” 

While Hanukkah is a joyous time for many, Thursday’s celebration won’t be just a parking lot party. 

Rabbi Zippel said the message of Hanukkah and lighting the menorah which symbolizes adding light, warmth, and love that continually increases from the previous night is especially needed this year.

“It’s a theme, which is powerful now more than ever. I think it’s something which this world needs more than ever: adding light and positivity and hope and courage and faith for the future,” he said.

Eight healthcare workers will also be honored during the event. 

“In order to show them the debt of gratitude that we hold in our hearts towards them for their remarkable dedication during this entire year of COVID[-19],” Rabbi Zippel said. 

The 12-foot menorah itself will also be dedicated to the late Allyson White Gamble who was the longtime director of the Utah State Capitol and passed away earlier this year.

Join with Governor Herbert, leaders from the Jewish community, and Healthcare Heroes, as the Festival of Lights is welcomed in at the Utah State Capitol!

Posted by Chabad Lubavitch of Utah on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is also expected to attend the event. 

The ceremony is scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m.


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