Thursday, January 01, 2009

Wellesley-Weston Chabad celebrates Hannukah

Wellesley -

The faint sound of people singing drifted out over the hum of cars traveling on Route 9.
“I have a little dreidel,” the group of more than 30 people sang. “I made it out of clay.”

This past weekend marked the end of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. During each of the eight nights, candles are lit on a menorah and the traditional Hanukkah song “Dreidel, Dreidel” is commonly sung. In honor of the last night — Sunday, Dec. 28 — the Wellesley-Weston Chabad held its annual menorah lighting. It was dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

“Tonight we vow to counter that senseless hate with unconditional love,” Rabbi Moshe Y. Bleich said after the entire menorah was lit. “The flame of the menorah flickering in the darkness of the cold and the night symbolizes Hanukkah’s bold message to never give up and the knowledge that in the end, light is stronger than darkness and goodwill will prevail over evil.”

In late November, more than 170 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Two of the victims were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah, originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., who went to Mumbai to manage the Jewish outreach center there. Bleich lamented their loss.

“Their open hearts and generous acts of love and kindness are the exact antithesis to the hate-filled terrorists,” Bleich said. “They dedicated their short lives to lovingly tend to the needs of others. In life, as in their tragic death, they brought unity among Jews of all backgrounds and affiliations.”

The menorah lighting, however, was also about happiness and joy in lighting the candles. Standing in the yard in front of the Chabad house, the group of people gathered to watch as the menorah was prepped. The huge menorah, which is easily seen from Route 9, required at least two people to help light it: one person to light the candle; a second to screw the candle into the menorah.

Eight different members of the community were called up to light a wick. Daniel Sidman, 9, was called up to light what is known as the “shamas,” the first candle lit. His father, Alan Sidman, said it was a “total surprise to all” of them that Daniel was asked to light the first candle.
Standing nearby was Norm and Amy Gorin of Seaver Street. The couple said they are active members in Temple Beth Elohim and came to the lighting to support Bleich and his family.

“We come every year,” Norm Gorin said. “We came to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah and also the memorial service for the Chabad members who were lost in Mumbai.”

After the menorah was lit, guests were invited into the Chabad house for potato pancakes, doughnuts and a more traditional menorah lighting with prayers. Selwyn Wies of Brookline brought his whole family to the menorah lighting.

“I just think it’s very symbolic to have a menorah sitting out here on Route 9,” he said. It’s just demonstrating the freedom of religion concept in this country.”

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