Chanukah celebrations came early to the Capitol.
Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish celebration commemorating the rededication of the temple, officially begins Sunday evening.
On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson hosted Show-Me Chanukah, an annual event dating back several years and spanning multiple administrations.
It’s hosted in partnership with Chabad of Greater St. Louis and the seven chabad centers across the state, all of which work to support Jewish communities in Missouri.
The event is usually hosted at the Governor’s Mansion, but it was held outside the Governor’s Office this year because the mansion is being decorated for the holidays and the governor is preparing for his trade mission to Israel and Greece.
As part of the celebration, Parson presented a proclamation declaring Nov. 28 through Dec. 6 as the days of Show-Me Chanukah.
“This time of year, I think even when you’re talking Chanukah, when you’re talking Thanksgiving, when you’re talking Christmas and the holidays, it’s about hope, it’s about people taking care of one another, it’s about respect for one another,” Parson said. “And I think it’s a good time to reflect on just who we are as Americans and definitely who we are as Missourians.”
He said he appreciated being part of the celebration.
Rabbi Yosef Landa, regional director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, thanked the governor for supporting Missouri’s Jewish community and hosting Show-Me Chanukah.
Landa said the holiday stands for religious liberty, victory of the few over the many and confidence right will always prevail over might. It pairs well with America, Landa said, because it’s a country that’s become a symbol for liberty and religious diversity.
“These two stories, the story of Chanukah and the story of America, come together so beautifully at this event, and for that we’re very grateful for all of those who help make this possible,” Landa said.
Landa presented Parson with a siddur, a bound collection of ancient Hebrew prayers.
Parson said his understanding of the Jewish community and traditions largely come from the Bible and his previous trip to Israel.
“I just can’t tell you how much of a life-changer that was to be able to put things into perspective,” Parson said. “As I spent that time over there, I just realized how much of a special place Israel is and what it’s meant over the years and what it’s meant to defend Israel.”
The Jewish representatives applauded the governor’s planned trip to Israel, in which he’ll meet with various government leaders and businesses to strengthen the state’s economic ties to the country.
It will be Parson’s second trip to Israel and third trade mission. He traveled to Paris and Australia for previous trade missions.
“We hope that their visit is a meaningful and productive one, and we wish them every success,” Landa said.
The trip, which is scheduled for Dec. 2-11, will involve multiple stops in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel, and Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece.
While in Israel, Parson will participate in an ag-tech roundtable discussion with GlobalSTL and have meetings with SIBAT, the International Defense Cooperation Directorate of the Israel Ministry of Defense and the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
He will also receive briefings from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Embassy Israeli Country team.
While in Greece, Parson will meet with the U.S. ambassador to the country, various agricultural startups and the U.S. Consul General in Thessaloniki. He will also be the keynote speaker at the Greek Economic Summit and engage in a roundtable discussion hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce.
Parson said his goal is to strengthen relations and show the state’s Jewish population that he supports Israel.
It’s important for dignitaries to develop a deep understanding of Israel, Parson said, so they can support the country and the Jewish community.
Parson said attacks against Israel and the Jewish community are unfortunate and don’t represent the majority of people in the country or in the state.