MONTVILLE, NJ – It was the third night of Hanukkah, Dec. 4, when residents gathered to enjoy doughnuts, hot chocolate and hot coffee on a chilly winter’s night at the Montville Township Municipal Building and to light the township’s menorah.

Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of light, which celebrates a vessel of oil that was only supposed to burn in the newly re-dedicated second temple for one day, but lasted for eight. Synagogues have a seven-branch candelabra called a menorah in them, but the Hanukkah menorah has a special name, the hanukkiah, and has nine candles. The center candle is usually slightly higher than the rest, and is called the shamash, or the “helper candle.”

Rabbi Mark Finkel of the Pine Brook Jewish Center, who addressed the crowd at the Montville lighting, said, “My grandparents would be amazed that I am standing on municipal property, ready to light a menorah, but America is an amazing country. Our ancestors, our grandparents, our great grandparents – they came here because America is the land of opportunity and freedom. We will teach our sons and daughters the story of Hanukkah and pass along the great story of the miracle of the oil because of that freedom.”

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Montville Township Mayor Richard Conklin thanked the Department of Public Works for decorating the grounds for the holidays and agreed with the Rabbi, stating that “America is an amazing country.”

Rabbi Yosef Spalter of the Chabad of Montville said that on Hanukkah he was reminded of the words of the wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, Rachel.

“Rachel took a photo of their menorah on Dec. 31, 1932 in their window in Kiel, Germany,” Spalter said. “Across the street was a building decorated with a Nazi flag with a swastika. The caption Rachel wrote on the back of her photo was, ‘The flag says that Judah will die, but the light says that Judah will live forever.’” Judah is the Jewish leader who defeated the Syrians and helped re-dedicate the temple in the Hanukkah story.

The group sang some Hebrew songs, and Finkel helped some of the children light the lights on the hanukkiah. Hanukkah ends Monday evening.

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