Niagara Gazette — This season there are several events and concerts planned at the shrine (see box). A special feature has been added to the display this year — a lighted menorah donated by Jerry Wolfgang of Lewiston.
Wolfgang said the menorah, a giant sculpture of bronze and gold stained glass, has special meaning to the area Jewish community.
“My wife and I bought it when the (Niagara Falls) Festival of Lights went out of business,” he said. “It has quite a history to it.”
Wolfgang said the menorah was designed for the Falls’ A Festival of Lights by Mimi Schiff, the wife of Dr. Lester Schiff, once president of Temple Beth Israel of Lewiston. The stained glass came from the former Temple Beth Israel on Cedar Avenue, he said.
“I think the menorah has a great place to come to rest,” Wolfgang said of his gift to the shrine.
Fr. Ciavaglia noted satisfaction in having the menorah on display, as a visible connection to the roots of his faith.
“We owe a lot to the Jewish community,” said the priest, standing in front of the menorah on the shrines grounds recently, noting that its acquisition fits right in with the Pope’s Benedict XVI’s 2012 teachings on restoring faith and rediscovering the bible, which documents the birth of Christianity from the roots of the Jewish faith.
The menorah joins about 75 other displays at the shrine, which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany celebration, Jan. 6. As the season unfolds, Fr. Ciavaglia looks to the future, planning for continued growth of the shrine, including replacing all the clear glass in the giant basilica dome with stained glass and tiling the ambulatory that he designed which surrounds the basilica.
“There is much to be done yet,” he explained to a visitor with a casual shrug and relaxed smile. So much to do and yet, it doesn’t feel undoable, he said. “I consider it a challenge.”