Guinn shares in Jewish celebrat ion


“Three miracles happened — the oil lasted eight days and the Jews won the war,” the four-year-old proudly recited.

Although the young boy needed a bit of prompting from his mother to recall the third miracle — religious freedom.

Rabbi Mendel Cunin, executive director of Reno’s Chabad of Northern Nevada, met with Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn Wednesday morning — the first day of the Jewish eight-day celebration of Hanukkah.

“Hanukkah is a holiday which represents freedom over tyranny and light over darkness,” Cunin told the governor.

“We celebrate in a public manner because we’re proud of the freedom of religion we have in this country,” he said.

Cunin asked the governor to light a shamash — or helper— candle on the front of the menorah, then he sang and lighted the first Hanukkah candle.

About 10 children affiliated with the Northern Nevada Jewish preschool Gan Sierra, wore hand-crafted dreidel hats and sang a traditional Jewish song before shouting, “Happy Hanukkah!”

Cunin then presented Guinn with the tall sterling silver menorah as a gift.

“This gift is for his efforts on behalf of education because education brings spirit and morality,” Cunin said.

Guinn said he was honored to join in the Jewish celebration.

“I think any time little children can be so involved with the holidays, it’s great. They, too, want to be part of the overall process,” he said.

Guinn said when he was superintendent of schools for Clark County, he was part of a movement to allow Jewish children to make up schoolwork they had missed due to their holidays.

Carolyn Hamilton, mother of two of the children who joined in the celebration, said it’s fun for youngsters to be part of something special.

“But it’s also important for them to learn about who the governor is and his station. This is a holiday about enlightenment, about shedding light on my small world and the bigger world,” Hamilton said.

Cunin also presented Guinn with Hanukkah coins and a toy dreidel — which the governor spun and won “a big miracle.”