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Jewish Community Alliance hosts Hanukkah Extravaganza

A crowd of people in Hanukkah sweaters gathered to watch the lighting of the second candle.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The sights and sounds of Hanukkah filled Jacksonville's Southside Monday.

The Jewish Community Alliance lit the second candle on a massive menorah.

CEO Adam Chaskin says they host the Hanukkah Extravaganza on one of the first nights every year to get people in the spirit.

"Hanukkah is the festival lights," said Chaskin. "It's a time to bring people together for joy. At this time of year, with everything going on, it has another meaning. Shine a lot on some of the other things that haven't been so great. Let's use this festival to bring the joy out."

Each candle has enough oil to burn for several hours every night, and the menorah is so big, drivers along San Jose Boulevard can see the lights.

It's no secret - there's been a lot of antisemitism in Jacksonville this year, so the Chaskin sees this as an opportunity to educate folks who want to learn more about the faith.

"Come and maybe break down some of those misconceptions you may have about the Jewish people by coming to this and many of the other things we do," said Chaskin. "We're very proud the alliance is open to all members of the community. Well over half our membership is not Jewish. We think that's a great part of how we mix in with everybody."

The Hanukkiah menorah is a symbol of resiliency after a Syrian Army tried to wipe out the Jewish population a few thousand years ago.

When they went back into the temple, they found all the oil was spilled, and were afraid they were only going to have enough for one night while they tried to rebuild it.

That oil miraculously lasted eight nights, hence the eight candles.

Although they won't have an extravaganza every night, the JCA will hold a public lighting ceremony each night this week.

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