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Village lights up for Hanukkah

MILLBROOK — Community members gathered on the lawn of the Thorne Building to witness the lightening of the menorah in celebration of Hanukkah on Wednesday, Dec. 21. It was the third annual celebration here. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht from the Rhinebeck Jewish Center lit two candles on the public menorah for the second day of Hanukkah. Hecht followed the lighting by leading the attendees in Hebrew prayers and Jewish songs. The ceremony was followed by hot latkes, apple cider, doughnuts and singing at the Parish Hall of Grace Church. Hecht gave a brief history of why Hanukkah is celebrated.“Hanukkah is the celebration that Jewish people celebrate of the triumph of good over evil,” said Hecht. “As the Hellenistic Greeks went into Jerusalem and defiled the temple, they made certain laws forbidding Jewish people to follow the practice [of their religion]. The Maccabee Jewish warriors got together and were able to defeat the unbelievably huge Greek army. When this took place they went into the hidden temple and they only found one jug of oil left that still had the seal of the holy priest.”Hecht said the Jewish people went to light the oil for the one night but the oil burned for eight days and nights instead. From that year on, Jewish people started celebrating an eight-day festival of Hanukkah, everyday kindling one more light on the menorah. Hecht said that’s why Jewish people traditionally eat food fried in oil, such as doughnuts and latkes during the holiday, because it symbolizes the miracle of the oil.“It’s a great celebration, and it’s a celebration that shows a level of religious freedom because here the Hellenistic Greeks, headed by the king, wanted to abolish Jewish religions,” said Hecht. “Here we are able to live on and that’s a beautiful thing to stand here in Millbrook as well as other places that have Hanukkah and public menorah lightings to show that we are proud to celebrate this wonderful holiday.”The lighting of the Millbrook menorah was organized by the Millbrook Chanukah Committee, which includes Sheldon Lobel, Adele Lobel, Joan Blanksteen and Steven Peter. The pastor of Grace Church, Doug Fisher, came up with the idea of having the attendees come to the Grace Church Parish Hall after the ceremony for food and singing. Between 30 to 50 people attended.“We wanted the Jewish people to have something in the community, and this event commemorates the holidays,” said Sheldon Lobel. “They only had oil for one night but it lasted eight nights; it was like a miracle. Everyone can get involved in the festivities, with the singing of songs, eating latkes and doughnuts. It’s a fun time.”

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