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Congregation Adat Ariel

The festival of lights - Congregation Adat Ariel celebrates Hanukkah at Marion's Tower Square
LINDA RUSH, THE SOUTHERN | Posted: Monday, December 22, 2008 12:00 am

Rabbi Moshe Laurie of Congregation Adat Ariel, a Jewish Christian group, switches on the first of eight bulbs on the menorah Sunday in Marion's Tower Square. (Thomas Barker/The Southern)
MARION - Bitter cold and a relentless wind delayed the ceremony a bit, but didn't cancel the lighting of a menorah Sunday afternoon on Marion's Tower Square.

The event was the first public event sponsored by Congregation Adat Ariel, a Jewish-Christian group that has been worshipping together for seven years.

City Administrator Gail West was in her city office Sunday and opened the doors of city hall to allow the group to wait inside before they braved the cold and winds.

Rabbi Moshe Laurie, who now serves as the congregation's leader, told the story of the miracle that inspired Hanukkah, the festival of lights.

Hanukkah means "dedication," and it commemorates the reconsecration of the holy temple in Jerusalem after a Jewish victory over the Greeks who controlled Israel. The Maccabees, the group that recaptured the temple, had only one day's supply of oil to light the temple, but acted on faith and lighted the flame. The oil lasted for eight days. Jews light one candle on each of eight days, using a ninth candle known as the Shamash.

It was good that the giant menorah, or candle holder, was fitted with electric lights instead of candles. It would have taken a modern-day miracle to light a candle in the wind.

Laurie lit two "candles" on the menorah - one the Shamash - while saying blessings. He said the ceremony will be repeated at about 4:30 p.m. for the next seven days, with anyone welcome to attend. On Friday, the group will host a Hanukkah party, with dreidels and "gelt," the chocolate coins that are a traditional treat.

The congregation members "believe Jesus was the Messiah," Laurie said. "Our purpose is for Jews and Gentiles who believe in the Messiah to come together to worship." The congregation meets at Abundant Life Fellowship at 1409 E. DeYoung St. in Marion and attendance ranges from 30 to as many as 50 or 60 people, the rabbi said.

"I worship Friday evening, but I also go to church on Sunday," Laurie said. The difference in which day is observed as the Sabbath was "created by Constantine, a Roman emperor," not by God, he added.

When Congregation Adat Ariel lost its leader, members invited Laurie to move to Marion to take the job, he said. He had been commuting from Connecticut since 2004 to air his "Spiritual Warfare" program on TCT, he said.

And though he grew up in New York City, and has lived in other large cities, he said, "Marion is the biggest 'bump in the road' I've found. It is growing and prospering."

Benjamin Sloan of Herrin said he's been a member of the congregation since the early days. Dwayne Williams of Buckner, a member for about a year, said he heard about Adat Ariel from a friend in a prayer group.

They are inviting others to attend the candle-lighting ceremonies and hear the story behind Hanukkah and other Jewish traditions, or to join them for worship.

linda.rush@thesouthern.com / 351-5079

Hanukkah ceremonies will take place at about 4:30 p.m. for the next seven days at Tower Square in Marion. The public is welcome.

Rabbi Moshe Laurie can be reached at 993-1078 or moshe3@aol.com.