BH Spreads the Light 3rd Annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony and Festivities
The community gathered Thursday evening at Peppertown Park to celebrate Hanukkah at the third annual Menorah Lighting Ceremony in Berkeley Heights, thanks to the "grass roots" effort of a few residents.
Herman Matfes, one of the organizers, thanked the crowd for coming to "spread the light to celebrate this time of year." He spoke of how this event began three years ago when he and Donna Aflalo spoke of starting this new Berkeley Heights tradition. He said, last year, Yoram Aflalo did something special for the town and created a "one of a kind" lighted dreidel that rotates on an axel.
Prior to lighting the menorah candles, Rabbi Mendy said, "We were able to celebrate who we are, every group can celebrate their own identity."
"This time of year is really about spreading the light," said Matfes. "In the spirit of that, we are fortunate to have many of our Township Council and Council-elect and Mayor-elect here." He said without the support of the town, this would not be possible. In attendance was Councilman Manny Couto, Councilwoman Susan Poage, Mayor-elect Angie Devanney, Councilman-elect Stephen Yellin and Police Chief DiPasquale. Matfes asked each of them to speak.
Councilwoman Susan Poage said, "Light is what brings us together in all cultures and all societies. We count on light -- without light, we live in darkness." She gave a modern day explanation of Hanukkah. "Think of your cell phone at two percent juice and miraculously it lasts a week -- that is Hanukah in modern times," she said in jest.
Devanney wished everyone a happy Hanukkah. "I am very much looking forward to 2019 and the diversity in this community and celebrating everyone of us."
DiPasquale wished everyone happy and healthy holidays and a safe holiday season.
After the five candles were lit, the crowd sang along to a few fun Jewish folklore style songs and continued the festivities across the street at the Recreation Center where latkes, donuts and edible dreidels were served.