FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The Florham Park Municipal Complex contains Town Hall, the public library and the Public Work and recreation departments. And during the holidays, when night falls on this area, it turns into a winter wonderland with all its various bright lights and Christmas decorations. But on December 23rd, a particular celebration occurred at its gazebo.
“I welcome everyone here to the annual Florham Park menorah lighting,” said Councilwoman Carmen Cefolo-Pane, who was accompanied by Councilmen Bill Zuckerman and Charles Germershausen. “I’m happy to see so many new faces and many familiar faces. And I thank all borough employees for setting this ceremony up.”
Starting yesterday, the eight days of Hanukkah had begun around the world. This is a Jewish holiday that is meant to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire, from 167-160 B.C. It is also known as the Festival of Lights.
As the story goes during the holiday, there was once a one-day supply of lamb’s oil for the Temple Menorah, but this small amount lasted for eight holy days. From then on during the holiday, another candle is lit the next day on the candelabrum until all eight sticks burn bright. There is also the ninth (middle) candle stick, known as the “Shamash,” which is used to light all the other eight candles. And when these candles were lit, the air was filled with Hebrew songs and prayers.
This year’s menorah lighting was witnessed by about 40 people, young and old. The menorah lighting was conducted by the Chabad of SE Morris County, from Madison, which has been doing so for the past 20 years.
“We are candles in the darkness,” said Rabbi Sholam Lubin, director of the Chabad of SE Morris County. “And we have unfortunately experienced too much darkness in the world in recent times. We are very grateful for the freedom we have in our lives. We pray for peace in our homeland. More importantly, we pray for peace in the whole world.”
Following the menorah lighting, everyone got to feast on traditional Jewish food that are eaten during Hanukkah within the gazebo, such as potato pancakes known as “latkes,” served with applesauce or sour cream, and jelly doughnuts known as “sufganiot.” There was even mini spinning tops and chocolate coins for the kids.
“The menorah lighting ceremony gets pretty huge following,” said David Maines, who works at the Public Works Department and witness the lighting since 2003. “And here, people take the time to celebrate their faith and enjoy the holidays.”