By Vicki M. Leopold

As dusk arrived in Peachtree City on Sunday, Dec. 13, people began congregating at City Hall for Chabad of Peachtree City’s third annual menorah lighting ceremony to mark the eighth night of Chanukah.

Tables were set with latkes, homemade doughnuts and coffee. Children were busy with crafts, and the Fayette County High School brass band began to warm up.

Latkes and doughnuts, the traditional fried foods of Chanukah, await the crowd in Peachtree City.

Latkes and doughnuts, the traditional fried foods of Chanukah, await the crowd in Peachtree City.

Almost 80 people were ready and waiting when Rabbi Yossi Lew of Chabad of Peachtree City (chabadsouthside.com) began the ceremony. He introduced Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, who welcomed the crowd and received the honor of lighting the shamash (helper) candle.

Jews at the gathering reflected that the public lighting gave them a sense of connection and solidarity with Jews everywhere, as well as an appreciation of freedom and a sense of pride.

Rabbi Lew started the tradition of a public menorah lighting and celebration in Peachtree City in 2013 when one of his congregants offered to build a large-scale chanukiah, and the Peachtree City Council granted permission to set it up in the town square.

The last night of Chanukah this year thus began much as the first night did: with a public lighting of an oversize menorah in Fayette County.

The first night of the festival was commemorated by refreshments, children’s crafts, music and a lighting in downtown Fayetteville, sponsored by Congregation B’nai Israel (bnai-israel.net) and its new rabbi, Rick Harkavy.

Where once the south side of Atlanta featured a dearth of Jewish celebration, it now has become a regular freilach (merry dance).

Photos by Howard Leopold