WAYNE, NJ – In response to the tragic events in Monsey, New York where a madman charged into a Rabbi’s home with a knife during a Hanukkah celebration, stabbing five people, the Chabad Center in Wayne held a special event on the last day of Hannukah to unite Wayne residents against intolerance.
Sunday night was a dark, cold, rainy night, but close to eighty people showed up for the last-minute event to show their support for the Jewish community, including Wayne Mayor Chris Vergano, incoming Wayne Councilwoman Fran Ritter, Wayne Business Administrator Neal Bellet and Passaic County Freeholder Director John Bartlett.
“With all these forms of antisemitism that have become rampant in the last couple of months, we wanted to do something to bring a positive energy back into our community,” said Rabbi Michel Gurkov. “We decided that on the eighth night of Hanukkah when we light all the candles of the Menorah, that the light of the Menorah send forth a message that no one in this world, no religion, no creed, no race should tolerate any type of religious persecution, or any type of persecution.”
The event began with a welcome from Rabbi Mayer Gurkov and a short speech from Vergano who spoke of his support for the Jewish community in Wayne and his disdain for any form of intolerance.
Rabbi Michel Gurkov then addressed the crowd, who stood shivering under open umbrellas. “We are all one people, we are all the son of man, there are no distinctions between us save for what we create. Instead, we need to create an environment where we are not different, where we are not separate, where we are all one, and we have to look out for each other because we are all part of the same melting pot.”
“Even though there is a lot of darkness in this world, there are a lot more good people than there are bad,” the Rabbi said. “If we increase our acts of goodness and kindness, we can dispel the darkness that has seemed to envelop us in the last couple of weeks and months.”
Because of the rain, Rabbi Mayer Gurkov struggled to light all the candles on the Menorah, but he eventually did and then invited Bartlett to speak. He said: “I stand with you tonight, as I’ve stood with religious minority communities across our county so many times, including last year when we gathered in Wayne to mourn for those lost to antisemitic violence in Pittsburgh.”
“It’s a rainy night,” continued Bartlett. “And, it took Mayer a long time to get that last candle lit, but he persevered. And so, we all must persevere to shine our light in the darkness. The next light we must kindle is the light in each of our hearts: a light of unity and common purpose against those who would divide us with violence and prejudice. I will always stand with you to kindle that light together, and I wish God’s blessing on all of us in the new year.”
“This event showcased Wayne’s solidarity and its zero tolerance for the hateful and cowardly acts in Jersey City and In Monsey,” said Ritter, whose father fought in the front lines during World War II against Nazi Germany and had family members who were murdered during the Holocaust. “I was very proud to see Wayne Residents of all different religions, races and political parties standing together against hate.”
The event ended with music playing and many dancing in the cold rain. The cold was dispelled with dancing and the night in Wayne was brighter with the lights of the Menorah.