Published November 27, 2012
UPDATE - Capitol hosts AWB holiday tree; nativity, menorah also OK'd for outdoorsBrad Shannon
The Association of Washington Business plans to put up its annual holiday tree in the Capitol Rotunda soon. The group announced plans Monday for a Friday, Dec. 7, lighting ceremony that starts at 5:30 in the State Reception Room with Gov. Chris Gregoire presenting gifts donated to the business group. Full details of the yearly fundraising event, which includes the public tree lighting at 6:27 and arrival of Santa a few minutes later, are here. The business group said it already has raised close to $17,000 for the 23-year-old event. The Department of Enterprise Services said recently it also received three permit requests for outdoor holiday displays including two for a menorah in state-owned Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia and one for a nativity set on the Capitol Campus. The menorah permits have been approved but talks are continuing on the nativity set, which sponsors want to keep in place longer than the 14-day limit and to have it lighted overnight, according to DES spokesman Jim Erskine. Erskine said the electrical lighting is allowed only if a display is attended, due to safety concerns. The nativity request from Hunter Abell of Bothell is for a six-foot by six-foot display on the Capitol Campus south lawn near Tivoli Fountain, not far from where an unlit nativity has been permitted before. UPDATE: Enterprise Services gave approval today [Tuesday] for the nativity display during Dec. 13-26. An agency spokesman said they were still working with Abell on a better location that would allow it to be lit. Both permits for the 9-foot lighted menorah were requested by Chabad Jewish Discovery Center in Olympia. One is for an event during part of an evening, Dec. 9, at Sylvester Park, where the center plans the lighting of its menorah, the singing of a few Chanukah songs and also the serving of donuts and hot chocolate. The other permit is for a longer display of the menorah and a small sign from Dec. 6 to 18 in Sylvester Park. In his application, Rabbi Cheski Edelman states:
Chanukah is a Jewish festival commemorating a small group’s triumph over their oppressor. It is a celebration of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. In the year 165 B.C.E., the Greek empire attempted to suppress the Jewish people and culture. A small band of Jews led by Judah the Maccabee was able to defeat the Greek army. During the eight days of Chanukah each year, Jews around the world celebrate this significant historical re-establishment of Jewish expression.
This celebration is not only one of historical importance, but also has modern-day impact. In a world filled with so much hatred, intolerance and prejudice, this holiday reminds both Jews and non-Jews that with a personal commitment to making change through everyday acts of goodness and kindness (Mitzvot), a little light can dispel much darkness.