By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The weather was chilly but clear for the first night of Hanukkah as several dozen people gathered at sundown on Dec. 22 on Shrewsbury’s Town Common. The event, to commemorate the beginning of the eight day “Festival of Lights” celebration, was once again sponsored by Chabad of Westborough.
Selectman John Lebeaux had the honor of lighting the first candle as his colleagues from the Board including chair Maurice DePalo, Selectmen Beth Casavant and James Kane, along with Kane’s wife, State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), observed.
Rabbi Michoel Green referenced remarks recently made by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had said that “Hanukkah spreads the eternal message of religious freedom.”
Johnson had also noted, Green said, that “It is sad that there is still so much hate and intolerance and that the Jewish people bore the brunt of that intolerance.”
“I believe that it is blown out of proportion because we are living in better times for Jews than there has been in history and even here in the United States and especially here in New England that with all the media coverage and the attention that anti-Semitism gets…there is less anti-Semitism now than there was 30 or 40 years ago…” remarked Green.
“Nowadays the overwhelming majority of every decent human being and every decent citizen in the United States and the commonwealth are on our side so we are not an oppressed minority anymore so I feel we have to get out of that mindset.”
Lebeaux, who himself is Jewish, spoke on behalf of the Board.
“This has been a very supportive community; my family has been here for over 100 years. Our duty is to do what we do every year… to light a light against the darkness,” he said.
“…On behalf of the Board of Selectmen and the town of Shrewsbury, we want to wish everyone a happy Hanukkah,” he added.
Chabad of Westborough will be hosting the final night of Hanukkah Sunday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. on the Westborough rotary.