NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - On the evening of Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, the first of the eight days of Hanukkah, Faith Lutheran Church in New Providence and the three synagogues of Summit: Temple Sinai; Congregation Ohr Shalom-Summit Jewish Community Center, and Congregation Beth Hatikvah lit the first candle of the Menorah on the lawn of Faith Lutheran. This was the thirteenth consecutive year that Faith and the synagogues have partnered in the lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah at Faith.
In view of the recent horrific anti-Semitic actions in the United States and throughout the world, the evening was especially meaningful to the persons attending from the four houses of worship.
The evening began with an address by Rabbi Dennis Ross of Temple Sinai. He expressed the gratitude of the members of the three synagogues to Rev. Jane McCready, pastor of Faith, for the long-term partnership that the synagogues have had with Faith. Rabbi Ross’ words were followed by prayers and songs of Hanukkah, the latter being led by Cantor Janet Ilene Roth of Congregation Ohr Shalom.
Cantor Roth also spoke of the great respect and love that the Jewish community has for the memory of Rev. Dr. Murdoch MacPherson, who was pastor of Faith for thirty-five years and passed away in August 2017. 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 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 at each subsequent Hanukkah.
Also, on Faith’s lawn during the Christmas season was a manger, lying on straw within a small, open wooden stable. On early Christmas morning, a wrapped gift was placed within the manger. This represented the birth of Jesus, a gift from God to all people. Christianity was born from the Jewish tradition.
Subsequent to the lighting ceremony, everyone went to the sanctuary of Faith where all sang fun Hanukkah songs. Leading the singing were Cantor Roth and Steve Wetter, volunteer cantor at Beth Hatikvah. At the conclusion of the songs, Cantor Roth described the kosher refreshments of fruits, cheeses, breads, nuts, cookies and jelly donuts, which are traditionally served at Hanukkah celebrations, that were waiting for all on a buffet table in Faith’s Educational Hall. The congregants responded to the singing and the food with a round of applause.