MONTVILLE, NJ – About 100 people gathered at the Montville Township Municipal Building on Dec. 8 to kindle three “flames” on the Township chanukiah for the third night of Hanukkah. The nine-pronged candelabrum, often referred to as a menorah, is part of the “Festival of Lights” in the Jewish religion. Each night, a center candle is lit, which is then used to light a candle for each night of the eight-day celebration which began on Sunday.

Rabbi Mark David Finkel of the Pine Brook Jewish Center presided over the celebration.

“It’s a pleasure to see you all,” said Finkel. “A few months ago we came to this building to raise our voices. The community listened to our needs and even as we speak, many are working to make sure this discrimination does not happen again.”

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Finkel was referring to community outrage at the comments of a Montville Township High School senior in the June 2015 yearbook, which many perceived to be anti-Semitic. Secular and religious leaders spoke at a summer Board of Education meeting to express their disappointment.

“Tonight, we celebrate the Festival of Lights,” continued Finkel. “May we all be blessed.”

Mayor Scott Gallopo said, “It’s great to see such a large crowd. Montville Township is one community, full of diversity and respect, and I’m thankful to be a part of that tonight.”

Rabbi Yosef Spalter of Montville Chabad also greeted the crowd and wished all a happy Hanukkah.

The Township chanukiah was then kindled while Cantor Menachem Toren led the crowd in singing the Blessing Over the Candles and the Blessing For the Hanukkah Miracle, in Hebrew. The “Ma'Oz Tzur” was also sung.

To view a video of the song, click Ma'Oz Tzur.

Toren then led children from the Pine Brook Jewish Center in singing Hanukkah songs.

TAPintoMontville spoke to a few youth at the event, about their Hanukkah celebrations. Justin S., age 12, said he ate four latkes, or potato pancakes, with his family to celebrate the holiday. Steven Z., also age 12, said his family will exchange just one gift each, and he is hoping to receive a drone. Twelve-year-old Reece S. said his favorite Hanukkah song is “Dreidel, Dreidel,” and he’s hoping to receive a third dog for Hanukkah.