Temple Sinai of Cinnaminson will host a community Hanukkah candle lighting on Sunday, Nov. 28, the Jewish holiday’s first night.
All are welcome for festivities beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Wood Park, at the corner of Pomona and Riverton roads. The candle lighting will commence at 5 p.m.
“One of the most resonant themes of Hanukkah is this idea that even amidst darkness … we embrace one another to light up the world through our actions and through community,” said Temple of Sinai Rabbi Michael Perice.
Perice explained how Hanukkah often gets associated with Christmas, which was intentional as Jews tried to assimilate to American culture for much of the early 20th century. The rabbi called Hanukkah “an embracing of identity,” where the Jewish community can say, “We have our own rituals. We have our own traditions. We’re not like everybody else.” And that’s okay.’”
While many Jewish rituals throughout the year are done in a synagogue or in a private home, Hanukkah is one of the public facing rituals, Perice explained. One of the commandments is for followers to light the menorah in public spaces where others can see it.
The community will gather to light the larger-than-life electric menorah, said the temple’s immediate Past President Stacy Blacker.
The candle lighting will include coffee, hot chocolate and sufganiyot, a round jelly doughnut deep fried in oil, filled with jam or custard, then topped with powdered sugar. Eating food fried in oil commemorates the miracle of Hanukkah. Kids will also be able to participate in crafts and a scavenger hunt.
“It’s a great chance for all of us to get together and be silly and hang out,” said Blacker. “That’s what I like. Hanukkah is not about giving presents, but it’s just a good time to get together.”
“For an hour, people can come out, be part of a community, feel Jewish … and not worry about everything else going on in their lives,” Perice noted. “And really connect to something bigger than themselves.”