Elliott Yurman, of Homewood, lit the candles of Flossmoor’s community menorah at Flossmoor Park on the second night of Hanukkah, Monday, Dec. 19.
“I had not been a member of the faith for 50 years and I came back,” Yurman said. “So, here I am, out of the desert and into the cold.”
A member of the Shir Tikvah synagogue in Homewood, Yurman also took part in the Village of Flossmoor’s 2021 public celebration of Hanukkah and said inclusivity was at the heart of it.
“I’m grateful for the villages of Homewood and Flossmoor for being inclusive for all faiths,” Yurman said. “I’m hoping that people — for Christmas, for Kwanzaa, for all the religious holidays — that they become kinder and more inclusive. I wish hope and peace for everybody.”
Before lighting two candles with the shamash, or leader candle, Yurman provided some history of the faith and lighting the menorah, as well as an explanation of the order in which the candles are lit. He sang two prayers in Hebrew and provided translations of both in English.
“It’s an honoring of our faith in these troubling times,” Yurman told those gathered. “And it’s also a holiday of joy and hope that going forward we can be more inclusive, be a bit more kind and have happiness.”
Yurman said he was raised Orthodox but was not part of the faith “for various reasons” for decades. After his wife died a few years ago, Yurman said he kept a promise and renewed his faith. He found a feeling of community in it. He also noted that his grandparents died in the Holocaust.
“The strife that the people of our faith have had to endure over the years, we’re such a small minority that it meant so much for me to get back to the faith and renew my faith in God,” Yurman said. “It took a while to refamiliarize myself. It’s chicken soup for the soul. It’s good.”