By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – On the chilly evening of Dec. 10, the Chabad of Westborough once again opened the eight day “Festival of Lights” known as Chanukah with the lighting of a nine-foot menorah on display on the Town Common.
The menorah is poignantly juxtaposed against the backdrop of the First Congregational Church and the Town Common that is adorned with lights which were dimmed in honor of the occasion.
A gathering of approximately a dozen residents paid homage to the miracle of the Maccabees’ victory over the Syrian-Greek Empire. According to Jewish tradition the Feast of Dedication, or the Festival of Lights, celebrates the reaffirmation of the ideals of Judaism and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival; hence the eight-day Festival of Lights which concluded this year on Dec. 18.
The lighting was preceded by comments from Rabbi Michoel Green who said that the first night was arguably the most important night of Chanukah “because we go from darkness to light.”
He held up a rock he received from a person from the community at last year’s lighting that was from Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp. The rock was encased in a box that said “Dachau – We Should Never Forget.” The person’s grandfather helped liberate Dachau during World War II.
The significance wasn’t lost on Green who then used it as an analogy to how the Jewish people have been penalized recently for holding religious celebrations during the pandemic.
“We have to be very careful and very vigilant to safeguard our precious freedoms and most importantly our religious freedoms,” he said. “And Chanukah is a celebration of religious freedom.”
Steven Schimmel, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts, was also present. He added that it is incumbent that Jewish people be “bright strong lights in a dark world to carry on a message of hope and a message of goodness in the world and to make it a better place”.
Dr. Philip F. Lukoff, MD. then assisted with the lighting of the menorah.
A menorah was also lit in Westborough on Dec. 13 on the downtown rotary.