NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 15, the sixth of the eight days of Hanukkah, Faith Lutheran Church in New Providence and the Summit synagogues of Congregation Ohr Shalom-Summit Jewish Community Center and Temple Sinai lit the sixth candle of the Menorah at Faith. This was the fourteenth consecutive year that Faith and the synagogues have partnered in the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah on the front lawn of Faith.
In response to the pandemic, this year’s lighting was different than the earlier ones. At the prior 13, members of each of the three congregations attended. On December 15, only the three clergy of the congregations were present; Rev. Jane McCready of Faith Lutheran, Rabbi Avi Friedman of Congregation Ohr Shalom-Summit Jewish Community Center and Rabbi Erin Glazer of Temple Sinai. Each was masked. The ceremony was live-streamed via Faith’s Facebook Page; Faith Lutheran, New Providence.
The lighting ceremony began with a welcome from Pastor McCready, who expressed her appreciation for the long term friendship Faith has had with the two synagogues. She observed that while tonight’s lighting was different than the past, the members of the three congregations were still together in spirit and emotion.
Rabbi Friedman thanked Faith for again hosting the lighting ceremony. He said “We should never forget that Rev. Murdoch MacPherson, pastor of Faith, began and led this fantastic tradition.” Rev. MacPherson (Pastor Mac) served Faith for 35 years and passed away in 2017. The members of the Jewish community have great respect and love for his memory. Rabbi Friedman then lit the sixth candle of the Menorah.
In response to an anti-Semitic incident in the community in 2007, Pastor MacPherson initiated discussions with Rabbi William Horn, now Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Ohr Shalom-Summit Jewish Community Center, and Rabbi Stuart Gershon, now Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sinai. The result was the first lighting of the Menorah at Faith during Hanukkah later that year. Accompanying the Menorah was a sign saying, “In Celebration with our Jewish Brothers and Sisters.” The sign has continued to be displayed each subsequent Hanukkah.
Rabbi Glazer expressed her appreciation to Pastor McCready and Faith for conducting the lighting ceremony with the two synagogues. Their members have been grateful for the friendship of and recognition by Faith. Rabbi Glazer then sang a Hanukkah song.
Also, on Faith’s lawn and near the Menorah during the Christmas season is a manger, lying on straw within a small, open wooden stable. On early Christmas morning, a wrapped gift will be placed within the manger. It will represent the birth of Jesus, a gift from God to all people. Christianity was born from the Jewish tradition.
The ceremony on December 15 concluded after Rabbi Glazer’s Hanukkah song. Before the adjournment, Rabbi Friedman noted that following past ceremonies, everyone went to Faith’s education hall and sang fun Hanukkah songs. The cantors led the singing. Subsequently, all enjoyed visiting and the kosher refreshments, provided by the synagogues. The refreshments included jelly donuts, latkes, cheeses, fruits, cookies and nuts, all traditionally served at Hanukkah celebrations.
Rabbi Friedman said the Menorah signifies light and hope for us. Let’s aspire that the fifteenth anniversary of the Menorah lighting of the three houses of worship allows persons to attend in person.
To learn more about each of the participating congregations, visit their websites at: Faith Lutheran; Congregation Ohr Shalom-Summit Jewish Community Center andTemple Sinai.