Menorah lighting is now a tradition in Jackson

Sixteen years ago, Honey Greenberg and Linda Selznick of Bat Shalom Hadassah teamed up with Chabad’s Rabbi Carlebach to begin a new tradition: a menorah lighting in the back of town hall in Jackson.

Chabad supplied the menorah while our chapter, along with local Yiddish cultural clubs, provided refreshments.

In 2019, the menorah lighting occurred on Dec. 23 because Hanukkah came late on the secular calendar, although it always starts on 25 Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.

We feared a cold and snowy day. Instead, we found ourselves in the balmy upper 40’s as Rabbi Carlebach once again lit the menorah in front of a large group of guests.

Sadly, for the first time, neither Honey nor Linda was present. Linda had moved away and Honey, having moved because of her health, had passed away the previous week.

As president of Bat Shalom Hadassah, I dedicated the menorah lighting to Honey’s memory and in honor of Linda.

I was most fortunate that Shelley Flaherty had agreed to facilitate the event. She proved to be a most efficient and dedicated planner. Surely, the event would not have run as smoothly as it did without her loving guidance.

We all enjoyed the usual jelly donuts, apple juice, hot drinks and Hanukkah gold chocolate coins in the lobby of town hall. Thanks to Steve and Annette from the Department of Public Works who were so very cooperative. Thanks also to the Jackson Police Department which provided us with officers in these trying times.

Prior to the menorah lighting, we were treated to a medley of Hanukkah songs presented by the Ahavat Olam choir under the direction of Rabbi David Amar, who also played guitar.

Rabbi Michael Klein, who is the temple’s rabbi emeritus, and Jackson Chabad Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek both greeted the many guests. Both explained the meaning of Hanukkah in the present time.

Sharon Greenberg of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County was on hand to explain the PJ Library Program as part of an outreach to young children.

Jackson Mayor Mike Reina and Councilman Alex Sauickie were on hand to greet the guests. State Sen. Sam Thompson presented us with a joint proclamation from the New Jersey Assembly and Senate.

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights and victory over oppression. In our troubled times, we need all the guidance and light we can receive. We look forward to this tradition continuing in the upcoming years.

Ellen Keller