The drizzly early Sunday evening didn’t stop the festive first lights of Chanukah from shining brightly throughout Hackensack, the Bergen County seat. Celebrating Chanukah for the first time at the newly minted Chabad of Hackensack, Rabbi Mendy Kaminker gathered friends and congregants together, seeking to bring light to as many people as possible.
What better way to spread a message for this newest outpost of Chabad of Bergen County than a parade?
Just before Pesach this year, Friends of Lubavitch of Bergen County, led by Rabbi Ephraim Simon, completed its agreement to acquire Temple Beth El’s synagogue building in Hackensack, located at 280 Summit Avenue. Under the terms of the agreement, Conservative temple members still continue to meet and use the building. Chabad of Hackensack is led by Rabbi Mendy and Rebbetzin Shterna Kaminker, who moved to Hackensack in June from southern New Jersey to take up the post. Seven miles from the George Washington Bridge, Hackensack, the Bergen County seat, is bordered by Paramus, River Edge and Teaneck, in addition to eight other small Bergen County towns.
Approximately two dozen cars lined up in the gathering dusk, with their vehicles crowned with specially decorated and flashing light-up chanukiot. Children, parents and grandparents excitedly logged into the provided Chabad link that played a high-energy Chanukah music mix in their cars. Guided by a cheerful Hackensack police department, which had officers placed at all busy intersections, participants chair-danced as their cars slowly paraded two miles along a pre-set route from Summit Avenue through the Hackensack University Medical Center campus, finally coming to a stop at the Bergen County Courthouse.
Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse and Deputy Mayor David Sims were on hand and helped light the menorah with Rabbi Kaminker, who gave a brief address thanking the community for its warm welcome and provided words of inspiration and joy about Chanukah. He expressed his wish that this was to be only the first of many car menorah parades and other fun events hosted by the Chabad house. Mayor Labrosse and Deputy Mayor Sims also expressed their welcoming spirit to the Chabad community and invited them to take part in Hackensack community events.
Learn more about Chabad of Hackensack and its minyan times and services here: https://www.chabadhackensack.com/.
By Elizabeth Kratz