SPRINGFIELD, NJ – In the cool and pleasant winter evening, the Jewish community of Springfield gathered on the first night of Chanukah for the seventh Annual Menorah Lighting at Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Morris Avenue and Shunpike Road.
Rabbi Mendy Blesofsky of the Chabad Jewish Center of Springfield led the ceremony and was joined by Springfield Mayor, Erica Dubois and several other members of the township committee. The event was supported by various departments of Springfield Emergency services and the Department of Public Works.
Over 200 members of Springfield’s Jewish community stood and listened to Rabbi Blesofsky before the lighting ceremony.
“We live in a time when unfortunately there is a lot of darkness,” Rabbi Blesofsky said, “Recently, we witnessed the dark events of hate of Anti-Semitism close to home in Jersey City.”
After concluding his opening remarks, Rabbi Blesofsky invited Mayor Dubois, who worked a mile away from the shooting that occurred in Jersey City and spent several hours on lock-down in her school, to say a few words.
“I’m incredibly honored to participate in the event tonight,” Mayor Dubois said. “The message of love and light is really important today more so than in the past especially in light of the tragic events that occurred in Jersey City.”
Mayor Dubios then climbed into the bucket lift and lit the shamesh candle on the mega menorah as the crowd below cheered as soon as the glow from the light grew brighter.
Then Rabbi Blesofsky went up in the bucket lift to light the first candle of the eight day celebration. Once the candle was lit, he began to toss Chanukah gelt to the crowd below. As the shimmering gold coins were thrown the children began scrambling to pick them up. The Chanukah gelt are gold foil covered chocolate coins that are a traditional Chanukah treat.
The lighting ceremony included music, latkes, sofganiot (jelly filled donuts) and special entertainment for the whole family.
The evening’s entertainment after the menorah lighting was provided by Anthony Caldiero of SuperSounds DJs and Nick “Houdini” Polini performing fire and light demonstrations.
This year, Chanukah runs from the night of Dec. 22 through the night of Dec. 29.