Chicago, IL

2nd Annual Chanukah Car Parade in Chicago Intended to Fight Darkness with Light

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

The East Lakeview Chabad is sponsoring a Chicago Chanukah Car Parade to highlight the theme of light overcoming darkness
Car Menorah Event/Facebook

Car menorah parades during Chanukah have become a tradition in many cities across the country as a means of expressing Jewish pride and unity and promoting holiday awareness. One of the main reasons a menorah is lit on Chanukah is to symbolize the miracle that took place when despite there being only enough oil for one day, it lasted for eight days. Another reason is to add light to the world. Those participating in the Chicago Menorah Car Parade do attempt to do both of these things. The Menorah Parade also serves to fulfill the Rabbinical commandment that the miracle of Chanukah must be publicized.

The theme of bringing light to overcome darkness is a central theme of Chanukah which is also known as the Festival of Lights. The Chanukah candles must burn after night falls (except on the Sabbath when they must be lit before the Sabbath candles), since their purpose is to bring light into darkness. But they need to be lit early enough that someone will be around to see them. On Chanukah Jewish families around the world light candles after sundown each night. This tradition dates back to the 2nd Century B.C. Each night, an additional candle is lit, such that the amount of light increases as the holiday goes on.

Last year, more than 70 cars participated in the menorah parade which was led by soldiers driving a U.S. Army hummer passed many of the city’s well- known landmarks. The parade consisted of Mom’s taxis, domestic and imported cars, all-wheel-drives and even muscle cars with lit up Menorahs strapped to their roofs. They passed through the local neighborhood with frequent stops so people could get a good look and take photos, then moved down Lake Shore Drive passed Chicago’s Navy Pier and Magnificent Mile.

This activity was the perfect way to publicly celebrate Chanukah with the community while still being able to observe COVID-19 restrictions. Last year participants stopped at a preplanned parking lot destination where they were welcomed with music and COVID friendly, individually wrapped packages of jelly donuts and chocolate gelt (coins). After each vehicle was parked, everyone tuned their radios to a designated station to listen to the program as the video portion was played on a 50-foot-high screen.

This year Chicago’s parade promises to be even better than last year. It will be held on Saturday, December 4th at 6:45 pm, when the parade will leave from outside Chabad of East Lakeview at 615 W Wellington, and then pass through the Lakeview neighborhood. Anyone interested in participating can still order a Menorah and join the fun. There is no cost for the Menorah but they do suggest a donation of $54 for anyone who is able to contribute. You can also call 773-495-7127 for more information.

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Chicago, IL

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