MILLBURN, NJ - For the third year in a row, members of Millburn's Jewish Community came together to mark the start of Hanukkah, with the lighting of a giant hanukkiah in Taylor Park.
The event was sponsored by Chai Center Chabad of Millburn/Short Hills. As attendees looked on, Rabbi Mendel Bogomilsky made some brief remarks about the holiday. Millburn Mayor Diane Eglow also spoke at the ceremony.
In between the lighting of the first candle and shamash, Artemis Fox of Fire Magick performed a display with lit torches, spinning them around before extinguishing them with his hands and mouth.He would come back up after the candles were lit to perform the second part of the routine.
The Chabad also passed out free winter hats for attendees, who munched on latkes and donuts. The holiday is associated with cooking foods in oil, since, according to legend, the Maccabees were able to use oil to keep the menorah burning after defeating the Greeks and kicking them out of Israel.
For Bogomilsky, the event was amazing chance to bring the community together in celebration of the holiday.
"Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah," Bogomilsky said. "It celebrates the fact that we can all come together in public, and we can celebrate our faith, we can celebrate our traditions, and we're very excited that the township of Millburn, together with the Mayor, Diane Eglow is so facilitating and has helped us to do just that with so many beautiful people."
Bogomilsky also noted that even with the recent shooting in Jersey City, the community still came together, which shows their determination in the face of intimidation.
"It is absolutely imperative that in the face of any kind of hatred, not only do we not turn around, not only do we not back down, but we double down with goodness," he said. "We double down with creating light, and that's exactly what Hanukkah does. It creates light in the middle of the night, and it creates hope."
This year, Hanukkah is celebrated from the night of Dec. 22 through Dec. 29