Wednesday night, a group of more than 300 converged on the court at Philips Arena following the Hawks game to light the Grand Menorah. The group danced, sang traditional Chanukah tunes, and celebrated an Atlanta Hawks win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
The group was joined by owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson, who lit the first candle of the Grand Menorah and participated in the dancing and songs of the group.
“Well for me, Chanukah brings back all those joyous memories of childhood,” said Levenson after the lighting. “It’s when we celebrated as a family and remember the story of Chanukah.”
Much in the same way that the Maccabees defeated the Greeks in the story of Chanukah, the Atlanta Hawks felled the invading Los Angeles Clippers 107-97. For the Clippers, the loss sent them to 12-7 with a 1-6 mark in their last 7 contests.
Atlanta moves to 10-10 with the victory heading into Friday’s game against Cleveland.
The night’s festivities were enjoyed by members of congregations from across Atlanta. Representatives from Yeshiva, Epstein and the Weber school lit candles along with various Chabad congregants.
According to event coordinator, Rabbi Isser New, the event was suggested by the National Chabad.
“This event was actually part of a national push from Chabad throughout various cities like Miami, New York and Boston,” said Rabbi New. “We want to help spread the miracle of Chanukah and the message of the Torah, so we brought it here to Atlanta.”
The Hawks won the game handily over the Clippers led by Paul Milsap, Al Horford and Kyle Korver’s combined 69 points. Still the Rabbi says the team had some extra help.
“I think the Hawks played an inspired game,” said Rabbi New, “It definitely helped that they had around five or six hundred people praying and cheering them on to victory. I think they might have been infused with a little Maccabee magic.”
Bruce Levensen doesn’t put as much stock in “Maccabee magic,” but he was quick to draw a parallel between the holiday and the night’s game.
“Chanukah is a holiday about good fortune,” said Levensen. “We had good fortune tonight to get the win and we had good fortune to have all our Jewish fans here tonight rooting for us.”
Photo by David R. Cohen