by Linda Selznik
JACKSON-On the sixth night of Chanukah, hundreds of residents, of all generations, braving a light but warm winter rain, were greeted by Honey and Bob Greenberg in the lobby of town hall, and enjoyed kosher jelly donuts, chocolate gelt, beverages, and spinning dreidles.
The Festival of Chanukah is celebrated for eight days. It commemorates the rededication of the holy temple in Jerusalem, following the victory of a small band of Jewish Maccabees over their mighty oppressors. Only one pure vial of oil remained, miraculously burning for eight days, until it could be replenished. Hanukkah reminds us of the universal message of freedom from tyranny and the timeless belief that miracles are possible.
In the main meeting room, Helene Schlegel, Township Business Administrator, Sean Gertner, Township attorney for the Zoning Board, and members of the Board of Education Tom Colucci, Vicky Grasso, Scott Sargent, were introduced.
Rabbi Jan Rosenberg of Beth Zion Messianic Synagogue, Howell, and President of the Jackson Clergy Association was introduced again, with several of his congregants.
Linda Selznick, co-Chair, read a certificate of thankfulness, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace… Where there is darkness, light“…written by Bat Shalom Hadassah, and presented to Mayor Michael Reina and the Township Council, in appreciation of their kind permission, and the unending assistance of the Department of Public Works with the Menorah Lighting.
Rabbi Emeritus Michael Klein and Annie Klein, of Congregation Ahavat Olam, Howell, New Jersey, shared “the true message of Chanukah, the right for people to believe as they choose, without coercion or fear.”
The Very Reverend Father John Bambrick, pastor of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, stated the need “…to be people of encounter, accompaniment, and dialogue and to walk with one another and our neighbors. May we reject the aimless paths of disagreement and closed-mindedness and work to build bridges of understanding, harmony and peace among people of all faiths.”
Chabad Rabbi Philip Lefkowtz, a newly welcomed resident of Westlake, accompanied by his grandson Eli, shared: “…there is a growing awareness in the US of the diversity of beliefs, however many people are not sure how to be inclusive of others. Today, it’s about using a time to be with friends and family to build understanding and awareness about others no matter what each person believes. Real unity in diversity is the new America.”
New Jersey State Senator Sam Thompson and Assemblyman Robert Clifton joined us again, reading a beautifully expressed ceremonial Joint Resolution to the President of Bat Shalom Hadassah, conveying the message of religious freedom in our beloved country.
Director Priscilla Baker and Master of Ceremonies Albert Vrancart led the vibrant chorus of the Four Seasons of Metedeconk Lakes, joining us for the first time, sharing the spirit of Chanukah through their beautifully presented songs, with unique introductions.
Drew Staffenberg, newly appointed Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, stated that: “in lighting the Chanukah Menorah, I hope that the lights of each candle will shine brightly for the entire year and challenge each of us to work together for peace and freedom for all.”
Ellen Keller, President of Bat Shalom Hadassah, addressed all gathered, proclaiming: “May all of our deeds continue to bring shared hope, light and healing to the many lives which we, in Bat Shalom Hadassah, are blessed to reach.”
We were blessed with a clearing sunset, as we then assembled on the lawn, to witness the Menorah Lighting, officially conducted by Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, Official Chabad lighting founder, and Executive Director of the Chabad of South and Central New Jersey.
Representatives of Bat Shalom Hadassah, the Yiddish Clubs of Westlake, Winding Ways, Metedeconk and South Knolls, and Jewish community leaders were honored by lighting a ceremonial chimney candle, as Rabbi Yosef Carlebach chanted the blessing of the candles and proclaimed: “This ancient miracle has lifted all of us, throughout the ages, out of the world of darkness, to ever increasing light and holiness.”
Rabbi Schmuel and Musi Naparstek, Co-Directors of the newly established Chabad of Jackson, shared, with their two young daughters: “No matter how many candles are lit from one candle, the original candle does not lose any light. Brightening up the lives of others with goodness and kindness will never take away from our own inner light; it will only enhance our lives”.
Cantor Emeritus Neil ben Isvy of Marlboro Jewish Center, concluded the lighting of the candles of the Hanukkah Menorah by introducing and leading the singing of Maoz Tzur, (Rock of Ages), a beautiful song of thankfulnes for our redemption.
Linda Selznick, Co-Chairwoman with Honey Greenberg, Bat Shalom Hadassah
11th Official Menorah Lighting of December 29, 2016, Jackson Township, New Jersey