The Jewish Festival of Lights Starts Tonight
It's eight days of latkes, love and plenty of presents
Jewish families around Millburn-Short Hills will begin lighting menorahs Wednesday night as Hanukkah begins at sundown.
The first night of Hanukkah, which corresponds to 25 Kislev of the Hebrew calendar, floats every year, sometimes falling as late as the end of December or sometimes earlier as it is this year coming less than a week after Thanksgiving.
At Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, kindergarten students worked diligently last week to make oil for Hanukkah menorahs at an olive oil press workshop presided over by Rabbi Yisroel Rosenblum from Living Legacy in Livingston. The youngsters learned about how olive oil is made and linked this science lesson to history of burning oil in an Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) and holiday lights.
While all Hanukkiah are menorah, not all menorahs may be used for Hanukkah. Everyday menorahs hold six candles (or oil vessels) and a Shamash (candle used to light the other candles), but Hanukkiah hold eight candles—one for each night of the holiday—plus the Shamash.
"I like this one because it burns oil and reminds us of the message of this holiday," she said. "The small amount of oil used to reconsecrate a temple burned for eight days. To me, this represents a spiritual miracle."
The Chai Center is holding a community-wide Hanukkah party on Thursday at 6 p.m. at 1 Jefferson Ave. in Short Hills.
At Congregation B'nai Israel, Executive Director Jane Young said to her it is a celebration of light and life. "Everyone, from kids to senior citizens, looks forward to this holiday," she said.
Rochelle Baron, director of the Hedwig Gruenewald Early Childhood Center of Congregation B'nai Israel, said, "Everyone is excited to learn how to play dreidel games and make latkes with their classmates. It should be a very good holiday indeed." The HGECC is settling into its new home in the temple's recently opened addition.
Hanukkah is traditionally celebrated with "oily" or fried foods such as latkes and jelly donuts. After the evening's candle lighting and present distribution, kids and adults alike play dreidel games and sing songs. It's a joyous holiday without prohibitions against activities or work.
The JCC of MetroWest is holding two family Hanukkah celebrations this weekend— a Maccabiah on Saturday and a Shalom Sesame program on Sunday. Both programs require pre-registration.