WEST ORANGE, NJ - As soon as you descend into the lower level of the Lubavitch Center on Pleasant Valley Way, an aura of restrained pandemonium fills the air. Rabbi Baruch and Devorah Klar are busy packing, boxing, taping and faxing, with the din of a printer in the background as they push to fill more than 300 orders for menorahs from such distant locations as Seoul, South Korea and Anchorage, Alaska.
"We'll be shipping right up until the week before Christmas," Klar said. "We've had a banner year with orders from malls, town centers, military bases, and even synagogues."
The journey for Klar began nearly 30 years ago, borne out of a simple request from the Lubavitcher Rabbi Menachem Schneerson to rekindle the ancient custom of exhibiting the Hanukkah menorah in public places. Moved by this challenge, Rabbi Klar, with the help of his family and students, fashioned the earliest menorahs from PVC piping and had them manufactured in Plainfield. "They were rudimentary, yet functional. And more importantly it set us on the path to where we are today, which is high-quality aluminum with PC boards that light each candle automatically."
Enter Klar's brainchild, "Menorah.net," which sells the largest selection of high-quality indoor and outdoor menorahs in the world. Other menorah websites exist and most of them buy from Klar. Klar has personally lit the menorah with mayors, state senators and several governors. "One of the funnier moments was when Governor Christine Whitman hopped into the cherry picker and lit the menorah with me. All of the governors since have insisted on the ride!"
Amidst the last push for deliveries, the Klars seemed relaxed in the knowledge that Hanukkah is about miracles and all will be okay. "As Jews we light the menorah to bring light into the darkness," explains Klar. "We've succeeded in doing that more and more each year, and for that we are very grateful."