MONTVILLE, NJ – Despite bone-chilling temperatures in the 20s, Montville Township residents braved the cold to come together at the Chabad of Montville and celebrate the third night of Hanukkah by lighting the organization’s giant, nine-foot-tall menorah.
Members fried up donuts, a treat commonly eaten at the holiday because of its celebration of one day’s worth of menorah oil that lasted eight days. The treats could be enjoyed with chocolate or caramel sauce, powdered sugar or jelly. There were also mini potato “latkes,” or potato pancakes to enjoy. Music was provided by a band called “Hassidic Rebound” from the Morristown yeshiva school.
Rabbi Yosef Spalter told the crowd that Hanukkah commemorates the special night when a small group of soldiers defeated a large army.
“One of the messages of Hanukkah is to do more every day to infuse the world with light; the light of Torah [the Jewish holy book], the light of mitzvahs [good deeds], and of being kind, compassionate and generous to one another,” Spalter said. “By doing this, more tomorrow than even today, we bring light into the world.”
The group shared in singing the blessings over lighting the menorah, and sang the song "Ma'oz Tzur," or “Rock of Ages.” After Spalter lit the candles on the giant menorah, members of the crowd lit candles among themselves to share in the tradition.
Then came the fun – Spalter strapped himself into the bucket of a Montville Township-provided cherry picker truck and tossed out chocolate coins to the children in the crowd from about 20 feet above when the boom arm was extended.
Stephanie Weisz said this was her first year attending the lighting although she’s been a member of the Chabad for about ten years.
“Rather than light my own candles at home, I figured I’d come here,” she said.
Beth Sirot enjoyed the activities with her grown daughter, and said she enjoys Hanukkah because it means reuniting with family.
“It’s not about the presents,” she said.