Thursday, March 21, 2019

(l-r): Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, executive director of Friendship Circle in Livingston, joins Rabbi Yitzchok Itkin of New York and New Jersey Devils owner Joshua Harris for the annual menorah lighting at the New Jersey Devils Jewish Heritage Night.

(Courtesy of Friendship Circle) From Livingston to Newark to West Orange, communal menorah lightings around the area spread a warmth and festive feel throughout the area, giving people ample opportunities to celebrate Chanukah with friends and neighbors.

For the first time in several years, a large menorah was placed near the fountain at the Livingston Town Center. The menorah was lit by Christopher Kaufman, the center’s property manager. Kaufman said he was thrilled to be celebrating the holiday with others in Livingston and that having the menorah onsite meant a lot to him personally. Children who were at the menorah lighting were treated to doughnuts, coloring pages, music and even some celebratory dancing.

A menorah lighting was also held at the Livingston Mall, where some people enjoyed doughnuts and others were glad to receive a menorah to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Elsewhere in Livingston, dozens of drivers adorned their cars with metal menorahs as part of the annual car menorah parade. Held this year on the last night of Chanukah, the parade made its way from Suburban Torah Synagogue in Livingston through Millburn and Short Hills on its way to Chabad of West Orange. The drivers were met with friendly honks and waves from fellow motorists and passers-by.

The largest menorah-lighting celebration was held at the Prudential Center in Newark during the annual New Jersey Devils’ Jewish Heritage Night. Families gathered on the main concourse to watch the lighting of the ice menorah and to sing traditional holiday songs. As has become a happy custom during Jewish Heritage Night, Friendship Circle was the featured charity of the game and FC participants were highlighted on the scoreboard during the game to help raise awareness.

That message was made real during a brief interaction between a Devils’ fan and a Friendship Circle family. As the father of a Friendship Circle participant recounted, “We were walking through the stadium when a woman came over and introduced herself and asked if she could buy our son, who has special needs and is in a wheelchair, a present for the holiday. She took us to the Devils’ team store and bought him a jersey that they picked together.

“Suzanne is not from the Friendship Circle, but rather a loyal Devils fan. Even if she hadn’t bought him anything, but just came over to talk him, we would have appreciated the kindness in her,” he went on to say. “It was one of those moments you see how many good people are out there.”