LIGHT in the DARKNESS — Menorah in Depot Park is lit despite cold and wind

Johnathan Hettinger —
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
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Enterprise photos by Nate Howard

Rabbi Tzemach Shemtov lights oil lamps for a menorah Monday at the Livingston Depot, “to bring light to darkness.”

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Schneur Druke, left, hands out music sheets for the crowd gathered for the menorah lighting ceremony Monday at the Livingston Depot. Participating are Will and Jesi Skattum and their children Luke, 9, and Breann, 7. In the background is Fred Madden, who attended with his wife, Fran Madden.

Hanukkah music blasts out of the speakers of the SUV with the menorah on top. A woman and little girl dance to the music. The rest of the small crowd huddles, shivering in the cold air, exchanging enthusiastic greetings and family histories. Foil-topped pans of latkes steam on the picnic table, waiting to be eaten.

Rainy Martin, who has lived in Livingston for 20 years, said she comes to the lighting of the menorah in the park outside of the Livingston Depot Center every year, and Monday night’s lighting of two oil lamps for the second night of Hanukkah fit in with the trend she’s noticed.

“It’s always cold, but usually the snow is up to here,” Martin said, pointing to her knee.

Rabbi Tzemach Shemtov and student Schneur Druke, who are studying in New York, officiated the lighting of the oil lamps, prayers and snacks Monday night.

“You’ve got to bring the inner warmth,” Druke said.

“I’ll try not to make it too long,” Shemtov said when starting the lighting ceremony.

Shemtov told the story of Hanukkah, of the oil supply that was only supposed to last one day but which lasted eight. He told a story about the resolve of the Jewish people, and he talked about the importance of spreading light and love during the holiday season.

“The message is lit inside of you, and you have to spread it,” Shemtov told the crowd.

Shemtov and Druke, associated with Bozeman’s Chabad Lubavitch of Montana, passed out menorahs and candles and made sure everyone knew they still needed to light their own candles when they got home.

Adding to the cold was a considerable wind. Shemtov lit a tiki torch and said he wasn’t sure if the oil lamps would stay lit.

“This menorah wasn’t designed for Montana,” Druke said.

But after a couple tries, the wicks ignited, with little glass tops helping the flames grow. The oil lamps stayed lit for half an hour, despite the gusts.

“It’s a Hanukkah miracle,” Martin said.