SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) - At sunset on Saturday night, Hanukkah celebrations began across Central New York.
In downtown Syracuse, with a mobile menorah and a bull horn, you couldn’t miss the local leader for the Jewish faithful, known as Rabbi Rap, spreading the message of Hanukkah.
"We celebrate the victory of right over might. The freedom of the human spirit. Light over darkness,” said Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport.
The rabbi took center stage as the celebration in Hanover Square began at sunset with the first lighting of the menorah, commemorating a time when Jews drove out foreigners in Jerusalem.
"They had to regain the temple and they had oil and they thought it would last for one night, but it lasted for 8 and that's why we light the menorah for 8 nights,” said Natalie Eisenson.
When Rabbi Rap came to this area 30 years ago, the menorah in Hanover Square was one of the only public menorahs that families could visit.
Now, there are several, right alongside Christmas trees downtown.
"Used to be if you were Jewish, you stayed home. Where were you going to go? Now, all the menorahs, we have large groups of people coming to all the different menorahs,” said Rabbi Rapp.
"The notoriety and the popularity is bringing a lot more diverse religions and cultures together and I think that is really good,” said Dan Eisenson.
Rabbi Rap will be lighting up the streets of Syracuse for the next eight nights.
The menorah will be lit in Hanover Square at 4 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. On Friday it will be lit at 3:35 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 15th.