By Cheryl Conway
The first night of Hanukka was bright in Mt. Olive as more than 75 people gathered to light the first candle and join in the festivities.
The Mt. Olive Community Menora Lighting ceremony was held Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., at the Mt. Olive Senior Center in Budd Lake. Local families, community members and some township officials braved the cold and light snow flurries to mingle inside for some Jewish music, hot latkes, donuts and games.
The program was sponsored by the Chabad Center of Northwest NJ Western Region with the support of Mt. Olive Twp.
Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman, spiritual leader of the Chabad, led the program along with his wife Fraida. They were joined by Rabbi Daniel Zucker of Temple Hatikvah in Flanders.
Honored to be called up to light the first candle, Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum joined Shusterman in reciting the holiday prayers.
Hanukka is the festival of lights which celebrates the miraculous Maccabee Army’s victory against the mighty Greeks, rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle behind the one-night supply of oil found in a jug that instead lasted for eight days.
Shusterman provided some insight about the oil and questioned “when they found the jug of oil, they didn’t say let’s wait. They took the little jug of oil and said let’s light the menora with it. They could have easily said let’s wait.”
The rabbi shared some deeper meaning behind this action of not waiting.
“When the world is surrounded in darkness, there’s no time to wait,” Shusterman explains.” Hanukka is right now; that little bit of light will light more than we can imagine.”
One should not say “when I’m older I’ll do it,” he continued. The time is now to learn the Hebrew letters, invite someone in for Shabbat dinner or perform a mitzva or good deed to help another.
“That’s what we need to do, rather than wait,” he says. “A little light goes a really long way. This is the message we share tonight.”
A large menora was placed in front of the Mt. Olive Twp. Municipal building as part of the holiday display of wooden figures and Christmas Tree. Another candle will be lit every night up until the last night of Hanukka, Wednesday, Dec. 20.
For more information on Hanukka, visit www.mychabadcenter.com/chanukah.