By Cheryl Conway
It was a rainy, bitter cold night, Mon., Dec. 26, but not too dreary for the crowd who ventured over to the Mt. Olive Senior Center in Budd Lake to partake in the lighting of the menora on the third night of Hanukka.
The festival of lights, and that it was when several dozen residents both local and nearby attended the Mt. Olive Community Menora Lighting Ceremony at 6:45 p.m. A giant wooden menora was built and placed on the front side of the Mt. Olive Twp. Municipal Building, along with other decorations representing other winter holidays, but the weather brought the celebration indoors at the Mt. Olive Senior Center that evening.
Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman of the Chabad of Northwest N.J. in Flanders led the candle lighting ceremony. Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum was called up to light the candles, helped the rabbi lead the prayer and welcomed everyone to the candle lighting event.
Shusterman shared a story about George Washington, when he was a general of the armies and noticed a soldier standing around with a candle. When he asked this soldier what he was doing, the soldier explained he was lighting candles for Hanukka. Washington had later visited this soldier and presented him with a medal.
One lesson, the rabbi explained, that can be learned from this story is the will to embrace one’s religion and make the effort to celebrate the holidays no matter the obstacles.
“Sometimes it might be inconvenient,” says Shusterman. “We need to hold on, be strong and keep up tradition.”
Students from the Chabad Hebrew School entertained by singing some Hanukka songs led by their teacher Fraida Shusterman. The Shustermans then announced the winners of the poetry contest and handed out the awards to the students.
Poems had to be connected to the Hanukka theme- “What Hanukka Means to Me” and winners were selected by a panel of judges.
Participants were then invited to enjoy some potato latkes and donuts and take home some dreidels.