Portland will begin its observation of Hanukkah festivities Sunday with a Grand Menorah Lighting at 5 p.m. on the steps of City Hall.

The Jewish community of southern Maine, as well as friends and families, are invited to celebrate the start of the eight-day Festival of Lights.

The event will begin with the lighting of the first of the eight candles on the menorah and include a gelt drop, a traditional ceremony in which chocolate coins will be dropped onto the crowd with the help of the Portland Fire Department. The ceremony is a traditional way to reward children for exemplary behavior and diligent study, while also instilling a culture of charity in Jewish communities, according to Chabad of Maine, the host of the event.

Juggler Andew Silver will provide entertainment with music from Paul Aranson and Maine Meshugoyim and a light buffet of latkes and doughnuts.

While the festival is a celebration, it also will be an opportunity for remembrance of those killed in the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.


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