Manchester Menorah Lighting Brightens Season

Rabbi Moshe Gourarie, of the Chabad of the Jewish Center of Toms River lights the fifth light of the Menorah during this year’s Menorah Lighting ceremony in front of Town Hall. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  MANCHESTER – It was a bit misty and overcast on the fifth night of Hanukkah but the rain stopped just before the township’s annual Menorah Lighting started – and the sky was a lot less gray after the Menorah was lit.

  Rabbi Moshe Gourarie, of the Chabad of the Jewish Center of Toms River joined Manchester Council President Joan Brush, Business Administrator Brandon Umba, Recreation Department Director Tracey Lynch, Township Clerk Sabina Martin and General Foreman for Buildings and Grounds Don Thomas on the grounds of the Town Hall before the crowd began to form for the outside and later inside event.

  A nice-sized crowd came out from all areas of Manchester for the ceremony which included speeches of hope and Hanukkah cheer and members of the Jewish community who shared their holiday with others.

  The celebration began outside the front of the Town Hall. The existing plastic Menorah that was in place earlier in the holiday season was replaced with a sturdier structure by workers of the Township DPW.

Ignoring the slight drizzle of rain, attendees observe the lighting of the fifth candle of the Menorah for Hanukkah during this year’s Manchester Menorah Lighting ceremony. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Jelly donuts and maple cream filled donuts were enjoyed inside the community center facility in the lower floor of the town hall along with beverages. Delicious latkes were also served up and you had the option of adding apple sauce to them if you chose to.

  It was all part of the fellowship that took part after the Menorah ceremony itself and also provided attendees the opportunity to warm up and get to know each other.

  “This is our 13th year,” Lynch said. “The menorah we had up had been donated by Rabbi G. years ago. It was made of plastic, PVC and was beautiful but after so many years the wiring had seen its day. There was another one ordered but it is not here yet so we borrowed this one for this year.”

  “Outside of the COVID pandemic we’ve been doing the Menorah lighting here every year. The idea is to bring the message of Hanukkah to the residents of Manchester Township,” Rabbi Gourarie said. “The message of Hanukkah is the victory during the temple times when Syrian Greeks tried to impose their religion and not allow the Jews to practice their religion.”

  He added, “the Jews stood up to them and they were also able to win the war though they were few and untrained. They were victorious, teaching us that light and good activity will ultimately be victorious.

  “There is another miracle that happens. They defile the temple in Jerusalem breaking all the olive oil jars which were meant to be used for the Menorah and candelabra in the temple,” he said. “They finally found one little jar with only enough to last one day but it miraculously ended up lasting for eight days. That is why we do Hanukkah for eight days. It isn’t for the eight gifts as some people may lead you to believe.”

  Thomas noted that a circuit had been added onto a platform. “We covered it so it wouldn’t look ugly and decorated it. I had no idea what size base this would be but it ended up being perfect.”

  “Happy Hanukkah everybody. Tonight, we are lighting the fifth candle, the center candle which is called the servant candle. If you look at the Menorah without looking at center candle you now see that the five that we are going to light outnumber the three that aren’t lit. Tonight we cross over from more darkness to more light,” Rabbi Gourarie said.

  “With the light we are kindling tonight, we have more and more light for positivity and more kindness through the world. I want to give a thank you to Manchester Township,” he added.

  Council President Brush said, “I think it is wonderful that we can come together as a community and celebrate Hanukkah. I welcome you here and I think this is awesome.”

Yehuda Fryer, left, who serves as a community liaison for the Orthodox Jewish community in Manchester Township, joins Rabbi Avi Schnall, Council President Joan Brush and Business Administrator Brandon Umba in front of the Menorah following the lighting ceremony on the fifth day of Hanukkah. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  Yehuda Fryer who serves as a community liaison for the Orthodox Jewish community in Manchester Township introduced Rabbi Avi Schnall.  Fryer said, “in Manchester which is such a beautiful town, it lights up and we have Hanukkah all year long around here. Those that work here as part of the administration are always kind and friendly to everybody.”

  Rabbi Schnall, the director of Agudath Israel of America New Jersey Office, said, “the Menorah resembles the Menorah that was lit thousands of years ago in the temple. Our Menorah today has nine branches, the Menorah at the time of the temple had seven branches. It was made of one piece of gold. The Menorah represents all of us. We are different branches.”

  “There are different strokes for different folks. We branch out but we come from the same piece. We are all part of the human race and mankind,” Rabbi Schnall added.