BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s the first night of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and downtown Baltimore is marking the holiday in a big way.
Kai Jackson was on hand for the lighting of the city’s tallest menorah.
Tuesday marks the beginning of Hanukkah, but there have been celebrations around the world.
Welcome to the Chanukah House–now on Greenspring Avenue. Yitz Fleischman bought the display from the Cohen family who brightened the holiday for 18 years on Park Heights Avenue.
“Two years ago we heard they were trying to sell some of the stuff, so I Googled it and found their ad on the Internet and sent them an e-mail,” Fleischman said. “Irving Cohen sent me an email the next morning, and said it was still available. My wife said maybe they’re trying to sell some of the stuff.”
Fleischman’s wife wanted Hanukkah Barbie.
“The Hanukkah Barbie has always been my wife’s favorite piece,” he continued. “I ran over there, wrote a check for half. I brought home the Barbie, told my wife ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news [is] I got you the Barbie. The bad news is I got the rest of it.’”
The rest includes the trains, the Hanukkah rebbe and the menorahs.
“Hanukkah is the holiday whereby a small band of Jewish warriors said,`We need to stand up for what’s right,'” said Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon.
As seen in the parade, the candles on the menorah represent the eight days and nights that the Jewish people made a day’s supply of oil last until the oil could be replenished.
“There are so many material things in life, but it’s the thing of family and friends, you know, just celebrating everyday life and being together,” said Jean Blasy.
This is only the second year of the Baltimore Hanukkah Festival, but organizers say the celebration is clearly highlighting both unity and diversity.
“We see us all coming together with a special soul that unites us, not bodies that divide us,” Lisbon said.
Meanwhile, at Goldman’s Kosher Bakery, there are holiday cakes and Hanukkah cookies galore.
“Goldman’s has the finest baked goods you can find in Baltimore. I’m here picking up some fruit danish and jelly donuts for my children and grandchildren. It’s a very fun time, Hanukkah. We look forward to it every year,” said Dr. Avy Shavrick, customer.
“Hanukkah is a big one. It’s more for the kids. The good thing this year is that both holidays (Christmas and Hanukkah) fall together, so it’s like a whole holiday season,” said Leah Cohn, Goldman’s Kosher Bakery.
On this holiday, fried foods rule.
“We eat a lot of fried foods. We have Israeli donuts filled with jelly and powdered sugar. They’re called sufganiyot. We have cookies in the shapes of dreidels and menorahs. We started baking early this morning,” Cohn said.
A tradition continues.
“This for us is just another venue of serving the community. We didn’t know if the community would want it or not because it was somewhere else for 18 years, but last year we got 100 to 150 people a night coming here. So for us it’s wonderful. People obviously like it. If they didn’t like it, we wouldn’t do it. My kids love it. They get to live at the Chanukah House,” Fleischman said.
For more information about the festivities at the Chanukah House in Pikesville, click here.