HomeEast Brunswick SunEB NewsMonroe Hanukkah celebration calls for peace

Monroe Hanukkah celebration calls for peace

MONROE – The tragic events in Jersey City more than a week ago were heavy on the minds and hearts as a crowd gathered to witness the lighting of the largest menorah in New Jersey on the first day of the Hanukkah Festival of Lights celebration at State Park on Perrineville Road, corner of Prospect Plains Road, in Monroe.

The crowd held a moment of silence and prayer for Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals, Leah Minda Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, who were fatally shot in a shooting which ended at a Kosher grocery store on Dec. 10.

The Chabad of Monroe, led by Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky, has been hosting the public menorah celebration in Monroe for 18 years with a 32-foot-tall menorah, which is a replica of the National Menorah lit across the street from the White House in Washington D.C. The rabbi had to use a forklift to light the menorah.

Councilwoman Betty Schneider, who attended the celebration, on behalf of Mayor Gerald Tamburro and the Township Council, called for love, peace and respect for one another.

“When I go to mass, I keep telling the Rabbi, I think I’m Jewish because when my priest reads the Gospel, I’m in the temple, I’m in the synagogue, which goes to prove we’re all the same,” she said.

The celebration included performances by Cantor Nathaniel Carmen of Detroit and programs for children including dancing with Dreidel-man, arts and crafts, and hot apple cider, cocoa and doughnuts.

David Rothman, chair of the Monroe Township Planning Board, read a proclamation.

“Hanukkah is the celebration of light over darkness,” said Zaklikovsky, director of the Chabad Jewish Center. “The darkness that we, as a nation, have been experiencing must be fought with light and goodness, and we are putting together our biggest program ever to show that we will not be intimidated by those who wish to scare us.”

In commemoration, Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. The celebration began on Dec. 22 and concludes on the evening of Dec. 30.

Barbara Goldberg, a longtime resident in the community, attended the public celebration for the first time, despite her initial discomfort with expressing her Jewish identity so publicly and openly. She said attending the public celebration “is the most effective thing we can do to fight evil … head on.”

Since its inauguration in 2002, the 32-foot-tall menorah has become an iconic staple of central Jersey holiday scene, with the weeklong festival drawing crowds every night to celebrate with dignitaries, artists and members of the city’s wider population.

For more information, visit www.ChabadMonroe.org or call 732-656-1616.

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