Menorah to be lit on Duluth Town Green

DULUTH - Rabbi Yossi Lerman estimates that there are about 10,000 Jews living in Gwinnett County, but said most of them probably don't know each other.

"There's nothing in Gwinnett County to bring them together and unite them," he said. "There's no Jewish presence."

Lerman hopes to change that with an organized Hanukkah celebration this year, complete with the lighting of a 10-foot menorah on Duluth's Town Green.

This year, the first night of Hanukkah - the Jewish Festival of Lights, which lasts eight days - falls on Dec. 25. Lerman said the fact that the holiday overlaps with Christmas this year only brings more attention to the message of the light. The holiday shifts its date each year because it is determined by the lunar calendar.

"The message of the holiday is individual freedom, individual respect," Lerman said. "It's sharing the warmth of the light."

Lerman hopes to spread that message through the menorah, which will be publicly lit Monday, Hanukkah's second night.

The Chabad Enrichment Center is renting space on Duluth's Town Green for the display, and Lerman said he hopes to have other displays throughout the county next year, perhaps at area malls.

Lerman said he thinks the menorah will only add to the downtown atmosphere in Duluth, which is already brightly lit with Christmas lights in the Town Green.

This is the first year the Chabad Enrichment Center is sponsoring a Hanukkah display in the county, Lerman said, but the group is always looking for opportunities to bring Jews together.

He said it's simply another way to celebrate the holiday season.

"It brings a good, warm feeling," Lerman said. "It's a very good time for all people."