SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Thursday night is the first night of Hanukkah, but like everything else this year, the eight-day “Festival of Lights” will be celebrated differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public events are being scaled-back, or are going entirely virtual in an effort to minimize the risk of the virus spreading.

“So if you want to light your Menorah along with the rest of us, there’s still s few more minutes to RSVP,” Seth Stutman at the Springfield Jewish Community Center said. “We’ll make sure we’ll give you a Zoom in, so you can join us and light your Menorah as we celebrate Hannukah.”

The Springfield Jewish Community Center is hosting a virtual celebration of Hanukkah, including the lighting of the largest outdoor Menorah in western Massachusetts, and a festive community concert. They will be live streaming the virtual ceremony at 5:30 P.M.

On Saturday, the JCC will be hosting a virtual concert at 7:00 P.M. with musician Deborah Sacks Mintz; a leading voice in the Jewish music soundscape.

Click here for more information about the Springfield JCC’s Hanukkah events

Early Thursday evening, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno will host the city’s annual Hanukkah celebration with Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy, with the lighting of the Menorah at Court Square.

This year, the ceremony will be held under COVID-19 guidelines, and will not feature the usual gathering following the lighting.

Other communities in western Massachusetts are also holding Menorah-lighting ceremonies, but they are not asking the general public to attend, due to safety concerns.