Rabbi Visits Livingston to Light A Menorah

Livingston Enterprise


Rabbi Chaim Bruk, of Bozeman, lights a 9-foot-high menorah in Depot Rotary Park, Monday evening, Dec. 6.


MONTANA — The Livingston wind took a few liberties with the lights but didn’t dampen spirits Monday night at a Chanukah celebration in Depot Rotary Park.

The group Chabad Lubavitch of Montana organized the event, which included lighting a 9-foot-tall menorah and singing blessings, that occurred on the sixth night of the eight-day Festival of Lights.

About 25 people looked on as Rabbi Chaim Bruk, who is Chabad Lubavitch of Montana’s Bozeman-based leader, attempted to ignite the individual oil lamps. The wind — really more of a light breeze by Livingston’s standards — made lighting the lamps tricky.

“We’ll get it, don’t worry. We did it for 2,000 years,” Bruk joked, referencing Chanukah’s roots that reach back some 2,100 years in Jewish history.

Bruk, who leads the Montana arm of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Orthodox Judaism, told the crowd that Monday’s celebration marked the first public lighting of a menorah in Livingston. About 35 Livingston families are active with Chabad Lubavitch of Montana, he said.

“We just felt like the time was right to bring the light to Livingston,” Bruk said.

Bruk’s group has hosted public menorah lightings in Bozeman in the past, but Livingston is only the second city to which it has brought a public menorah.

“This is the first time it’s in Livingston,” said Gardiner resident Greg Strauss, who helped Bruk with the menorah. “And it’s a really big deal. So we wanted to come out and represent Jews in Montana.”

Sabina Strauss was one of several people who are not Jewish who joined in the celebration Monday. Strauss said she and her husband normally try to attend the Bozeman menorah lighting each year but were excited to be able to celebrate in Livingston this year.

Livingston City Manager Ed Meece and City Commission Chairman Steve Caldwell, both of whom are not Jewish, also attended the event. At Bruk’s invitation, Caldwell gave a brief speech and wished people a happy holiday season.

One little boy in the crowd, though, was amped up for the post-lighting agenda that included traditional jelly doughnuts and coin-shaped chocolates called gelt.

“Yay! Chocolate Hanukkah gelt!” the boy exclaimed when Bruk announced what would follow the ceremony.

“That’s what I want to hear!” Bruk laughed.

Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees who defeated the Syrians.

“Upon recapturing the Temple from the Syrian Greeks, the Jewish people found only one jar of undefiled oil, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight days until new, pure olive oil was produced,” according to a Chabad Lubavitch of Montana news release.

Bruk encouraged attendees to “remind yourself of the candle within” and look for ways to incorporate light into their lives and communities.

“A little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness,” he said.

Since Chanukah started Dec. 1, Livingston resident Josh Merideth, who attended Monday’s celebration with his wife Allison, has been manning the park menorah.

The menorah is outfitted with electric lights, which Merideth simply plugs in. The electric bulbs are removable, and Bruk on Monday replaced them with the oil lamps for the ceremonial lighting.