Rabbi with flare lights pita menorah in Clearwater

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Tuesday night was the first night of Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights began on Clearwater Beach with a Hanukkah celebration that had even a bit more color.

It has become a tradition that every year in Clearwater, a certain rabbi does something extra tasty to spread the message of Hanukkah.

Tuesday, he says that message should resonate with everyone.

If you've seen Rabbi Levi Hodakov in action around Hanukkah, it shouldn't surprise you to see him giving instructions on how to hammer a pita into a menorah.

Nor should it surprise you to see him at the top of a Clearwater Fire Truck hurling Hanukkah gelt at groups of children underneath.

"I am super excited for another Hanukkah," he said. "Right now there is a segment of the community that perhaps might not be celebrating Hanukkah if we were doing a very dull program.

Two years ago, he built the world's longest Hanukkah menorah, at 44 feet. 

Last year, he built a menorah decorated with pizza.

"I have found that when we do these big exciting menorahs, it really excites the people in the community to want to come out and celebrate."

This year, the pitas make a perfect casing for falafel, an ideal, if non-traditional food, for Hanukkah.

"On Hanukkah, we celebrate the miracle of the little jug of oil that was supposed to last for one day but it lasted for eight," Hodakov said. "It is customary to eat food that is fried in oil like latkes or donuts. Falafel is one of those foods that is fried in oil."

While it was tough to light the menorah in the wind, he says Hanukkah's message applies to anyone who wants a happier world.

"A little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness," he said.

There's a lesson in the struggle of a small Jewish army over a Greek empire more than 2,000 years ago.

"Little bands of people, each in their own way, increasing acts of goodness and kindness will make this world a better place for all of mankind."

Rabbi Hodakov delivers the serious message, in a most fun way.

"The last blessing we make is to thank God for giving this opportunity once again to light the menorah, for giving us another year on his great earth."

He says he is still deciding on the food to use for the menorah next year.