Melting the Winnipeg winter darkness with a Menorah

News Article / January 31, 2020

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By Martin Zeilig

On the cold Winnipeg, Manitoba, afternoon of December 19, 2019, some 50 people, both military and civilian, took part in the lighting of the electric Chanukah Menorah located at the northwest corner of the parking lot across from 17 Wing Headquarters.

It was the second year in a row that the ceremony took place. The idea for a Menorah construction and installation came from 17 Wing’s first Rabbi, Captain Arnold Noteh Glogauer, who organized the event. 17 Wing Chaplain Major Kevin Olive and Acting Wing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Lonnie Fleischhacker also participated. Lieutenant-Colonel Fleischhacker made some brief remarks to the attendees before flipping the switch to light the steel Menorah, which was built at 17 Mission Support Squadron (MSS). 

According to “Celebration”, a brochure provided by Padre Glogauer, today's nine-branch Chanukah Menorah is a symbol of igniting sparks, which celebrates the miracle of light. “In 140 BCE, after a fierce battle for religious freedom against the Greeks, who were the controlling super power at the time, sovereignty was regained in Jerusalem and the land of Israel,” Padre Glogauer said. “It normally took seven days to procure new oil from the orchards of Tekoah. One jug of pure oil was found, hidden beneath the floor, and though it was a jug with just enough oil for one night, it miraculously lasted for eight days.”

He added that light, brightness, and radiance are the metaphors we use when we wish to speak about hope, wisdom, and goodness. “We are encouraged by the fact that a tiny flame can banish a roomful of darkness,” he continued. “If so, all is not lost. The big, bad world out there can yet be transformed. All we need to do is be what we truly are, to act out our innate goodness, and the darkness will melt away.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Fleischhacker underscored the fact that the Menorah is not lit by one person alone. “You do it for and with others,” he said. “As we look around here, there's a whole bunch of folks from all around the world. We're all in this together. The chaos and craziness pulls us together; this is a great opportunity to come together. That's something to think about as we light the Menorah.”

The ceremony was described as “a blessing” by Brinda Chengadu, Francophone Services Coordinator at the Military Family Resource Centre. “It's bringing everyone together for one aim, one goal: To have peace and respect, and to celebrate together for a better world,” she said. “There's hope and light.”

Padre Glogauer observed that the most important message about spreading the light is the unity of people coming together, as expressed by the camaraderie and leadership of 17 MSS with Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Mills and the 17 Wing Command team. “For me,” he said after the ceremony, “that represents the critical component of understanding the diversity within the Canadian Armed Forces, which is supported by the Chain of Command.”

A gathering with traditional Chanukah refreshments including jam busters, donuts, potato latkes (small pancakes) and coffee/tea, took place afterwards in the atrium of the Wing Headquarters building.

Martin Zelig is a photojournalist with “The Voxair”, 17 Wing’s base newspaper, where this article was originally published.

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