PRINCETON JUNCTION, NJ -- With the uptick of Mercer County residents diagnosed with COVID-19 (coronavirus) during the ongoing pandemic,Congregation Beth Chaim, the largest Reform Jewish congregation in Mercer County, is making plans to celebrate the upcoming Hanukkah. The last time that the congregation held in-person services was in March. 

Despite congregants not being able to gather together in person, however, Beth Chaim is continuing to grow a thriving online religious community. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the congregation has migrated its educational and worship activities online using Zoom.

“The Maccabees fought for religious freedom and lit the menorah in the Temple in order to bring their community together,” said Congregation Beth Chaim Senior Rabbi Adena Blum. “We have the same need for community today. As a result of the novel coronavirus, we cannot gather in person, but technology allows us to come together for holidays, education, and worship, and we are making use of that.”

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Congregation Beth Chaim has scheduled a series of cultural and educational events and worship services during Hanukkah, which starts at sundown on December 10 and continues until sundown on December 18.  Each of the events or services will take place on Zoom and will include a communal lighting of the Hanukkah menorah.

 “This is a unique way for us to connect. At this dark time of year and during this dark period of the pandemic, we are looking forward to bringing more light into our lives,” said Blum, who is a Robbinsville resident.

The Congregation also has made services available through YouTube. 

“Our live-streaming of services began as a way for us to reach people who could not join us in our sanctuary to worship with us,” Blum said. “Using Zoom to celebrate Hanukkah virtually as a community is part of that important effort.”

January will mark one year since Blum was named Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Chaim.

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