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New Jersey's largest menorah lit up in celebration of first night of Hanukkah

New Jersey's largest menorah was lit up Sunday in Monroe Township in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah.

Dec 18, 2022, 10:21 PM

Updated 574 days ago

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New Jersey's largest menorah was lit up Sunday in Monroe Township in celebration of the first night of Hanukkah.
This was the 21st annual grand menorah lighting at State Park. The first candle was officially lit by people of the Jewish faith worldwide to usher in the festival of lights.
Just before sunset, leaders in the community were hoisted up 30 feet off the ground to ignite the first of eight candles of the menorah.
"It's only become common place in the last few decades, that there are public menorah lightings, and it takes the spirit of the holiday to the outdoors, and brings that light and that warmth into our hearts and into our homes," said Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky, of the Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe.
Hanukkah celebrates good over evil, light over darkness and the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.
"That's what Hanukkah's all about. The tyranny of not having religious freedom, thousands of years ago, we're seeing it today and now we're celebrating the miracle of lights which really says we're here to tell everyone religion shall be free," said William Reinholtz, of Millstone Township.
Leaders in the community said it's more than just the miracle of the oil, but also the victory of the minority over the majority.
"The lesson is so much like the message of our country where religious freedom is something that is not taken for granted and celebrated," Zaklikovsky said.
The state's largest menorah is a replica of the 30-foot national menorah in the nation's capital which was lit at sunset.
As members of the Jewish faith gathered to mark the first night of Hanukkah, there were concerns about the rise in antisemitic incidents, most recently, an attack on all New Jersey synagogues and temples.
"We're definitely more vigilant and we have upped our security. We're in constant contact with local law enforcement who have been tremendous in terms of helping us out and standing on our side," Zaklikovsky added.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, they responded to over 2,700 incidents of antisemitism last year and nearly 400 of those incidents were here in New Jersey.
"The mayor and the council have been discussing informally, strengthening the role of our human relations commission," said Council Member Miriam Cohen. "So that we begin to give further knowledge and education to everyone about all of us."


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