Hanukkah menorah added to Capitol rotunda’s holiday display

By Rebecca Anzel Capitol News Illinois

A Hanukkah menorah was added Friday to the holiday display at the Capitol rotunda in Springfield. It has been displayed there for many years, and soon will have a sign added to the presentation. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Rebecca Anzel)

SPRINGFIELD — A Hanukkah menorah was added to the holiday display in the Statehouse rotunda Friday, Dec. 13, joining a holiday tree, nativity scene, satanic sculpture and Winter Solstice sign installed days earlier.

Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, a group that aims to further the worldwide Hasidic Jewish movement, placed the symbol of “spreading light and increasing light,” Rabbi Meir Moscowitz said.

“The Menorah is the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith, a seven-branch candelabra of the nation of Israel in order to be a ‘light unto the nations,’” Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a Democrat from Chicago and a member of the Jewish Caucus, said in an email. “I am delighted that it is displayed every year in the Capitol rotunda in celebration of the holiday.”

The office of Democratic Sen. Ram Villivalam, from Chicago, applied Dec. 4 with the secretary of state’s office to install the holiday display addition.

“I have the largest concentration of Jewish constituents out of any district in the state, … and so I see firsthand the different religions, cultures and languages throughout my district,” he said. “I also see how important it is to celebrate each one and also recognize the commonalities that each one has with the other. Displaying the menorah is an opportunity that we have to bring people together.”

The religious group has displayed this menorah for “many, many years,” Moscowitz said, and will be adding a new accompanying sign “in the coming days.”

To celebrate Hanukkah, which begins the night of Dec. 22, a staff member will light each bulb on the corresponding day, he added.

“Hanukkah is unique in that the message of Hanukkah is spreading light and increasing light. Every day we add one more,” Moscowitz said. “It’s a universal message, … especially nowadays when there is so much negative news — it’s important to metaphorically and practically make positive news and light and goodness. Where is more appropriate than the Capitol of this special state?”

The Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois also displays menorahs in Chicago at the Thompson Center and Daley Plaza, the site of the largest menorah in the state at 20 feet tall.