WAYNE, NJ – On an unseasonably warm December evening, a large crowd gathered outside of the Wayne Township Municipal complex for the third annual Menorah lighting. The Wayne Parks and Recreation Department hosted the event, setting up the giant Menorah on the lawn, setting up tables where traditional latkes and jelly doughnuts were served.
Mayor Chris Vergano emceed the event, announcing the dignitaries that were present to mark the second night of Hannukah. Present were: Rabbi Meeka Simerly, Rabbi Michel Gurkov, Rabbi Mayer Gurkov, Cantor Stuart Skolnick, the Chairman of the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders John Bartlett, Councilmen, Al Sadowski, Jon Ettman and Councilwoman-elect Fran Ritter, as well as the Chief of Police Jack McNiff and Wayne Township business administrator Neal Bellet.
“I want to wish you all a very happy Hannukah,” said Vergano at the podium set up outside. “We are all blessed here in Wayne, New Jersey that we have the freedom to assemble tonight and to stand in front of the municipal building and eat latkes and doughnuts. And, reminisce with our friends, and our families and our neighbors.” Vergano then went on to thank the Wayne Parks and Recreation Department for organizing and hosting the event.
“The bible is chock full of big miracles,” said Bartlet when he addressed the audience. “One of the things I really like about the Hannukah story is that in certain respects it’s a small miracle. It is a simple lasting for eight days, oil that was supposed to only last for one. For me, it’s a reminder of all of the small ways in which we can find God’s presence and all the ways in which he is unexpectedly with us for more time or in more places. So for me, the Hannukah story is very special. It is a story of hope, it is a story of light in darkness, and of the triumph of good over evil. These are all messages we need to hear today and hope we need to hear today.”
The holiday of Hannukah is the holiday of light and we all know that a little amount of light dispels a tremendous amount of darkness,” said Rabbi Michel Gurkov of the Chabad Center of Passaic County who offered free menorahs and candles for those present to give to their friends and neighbors who have not yet lit a Menorah. “On behalf of the Jewish community, I’d like to thank you for becoming ambassadors of light. Ambassadors to bring goodness and kindness into this world to dispel all the darkness.”
Cantor Skolnick began to chant the blessings with the crowd singing along. After, Rabbis Michel Gurkov and Meeka Simerly officially lit the Menorah to a huge cheer from those present.
To end the event, volunteers from Wayne Fire Company #4 brought their aerial ladder fire truck and threw chocolate Gelt down to the children who smiling and laughing ran to gather them up.
Hannukah began at sundown on Sunday, December 22 and continues to sundown on Monday, December 30.