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Coach Calipari lights Lexington's grand menorah

Coach John Calipari lights Lexington's grand menorah on the fourth night of Hanukkah.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDKY) - UK Basketball Coach John Calipari lit Lexington's grand menorah Wednesday on the fourth night of Hanukkah.

The Chabad of the Bluegrass organized the event at the Summit at Fritz Farms.

It's part of a worldwide campaign to celebrate the eight-day holiday's message of light.

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin said Coach Calipari was invited to light the menorah, even though Calipari is Catholic, because of his proven leadership in the community.

"Besides what he does in athletics, he is a figurehead who has led on so many issues," said Rabbi Litvin. "He's led in hurricane relief, reaching out to minorities in our community, uniting our community, and there are few things that unite the community like the Cats winning a game."

The Chabad of the Bluegrass director also turned to the wisdom of other rabbis using an analogy that most people in Kentucky can relate to.

"The rabbi once commented, 'The difference between a basketball player and a basketball fan -- a basketball player stays the whole game whether they're winning or losing; a fan, if he doesn't like what's going on, can get up and leave,' " said Rabbi Litvin. "And the rabbi urged we need to be players. We need to be invested in our community, we need to be invested in our town. If we don't like something we can't get up and leave. You have to be that light, you have to make that difference."

Lexington's menorah is one of more than 15,000 large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 100 countries around the world.

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