Calgary's Proud Tradition!

Since its inception in the late 1980s, the Community Menorah Lighting in Calgary has attracted participation from all affiliations, all congregations and all sectors of the community. It is conducted inside City Hall, the local mayor has always participated, representatives of almost every major Jewish (and many non-Jewish) organizations and institutions and families show up in the many hundreds for the event, and it is all carried into the rest of the community live on Shaw cable television. Other television stations frequently cut into their news programs live as the candles are being lit and blessings recited. It is truly a broadly-shared event and the formula is ready to be applied globally.

It is already more global than ever expected. Even though less than 1 in 200 Calgarians is Jewish, this city's universal ceremony has attracted enough interest that it is now being carried around the world online with enough throughout for cable stations in other nations to carry the event live in full broadcast standard.

At its foundation is a successful social strategy that can be adopted by everyone, to make comfortable and bring together the most diverse possible cross section of the Jewish Community in large numbers. It incorporates a philosophy of inclusionism, universalism and sharing that leaves most feeling this represented them, that it was, at least in part, their program, and walk away knowing it was put together for them..

In Calgary, Chabad speakers are never first or last, but always between community and civic leaders. Chabad supporters are honored less than individuals who might otherwise fall between the cracks of other local organizations.

With the support of Rabbi Menachem M. Matusof and broadcast director Jim Cummings, the social strategy which has brought together the cross-cultural interest was created by producer Harold Finkleman, an internationally published authority on communication psychology and the science of human response.

Finkleman believes extending this format is healing for Judaism internationally and will reward its promoters with the context of its universality.

Opportunities for further multi-nationalization of this approach and program have grown with the extended success and reach of the Calgary Menorah Lighting. Like the light of the candle, it does not discriminate in selecting who it touches — it merely extends. There is a continual need for more universalized expression of community ritual among all social and spiritual traditions — turning our differences into celebrations that bring us together rather than separate us.

Each year 400 to 600 people attend the event live at Calgary City Hall, where they are served latkes and sweets, music, merriment and good spirits, while many more join on television and the internet!

The Original Menorah TeamThe First Community Menorah Lighting at Heritage Park