Shrewsbury celebrates new menorah on Town Common

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Shrewsbury celebrates new menorah on Town Common
Shrewsbury’s new menorah stands on the Town Common. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – This Hanukkah was more eventful than most for Rabbi Shmulik Fogelman. 

On Dec. 7, the first night of Hanukkah, community members gathered on the Town Common to watch Fogelman light the menorah. The event, which featured potato latkes, sufganiyot, and other fried foods, was an important display of Jewish pride. 

“We’re not cowering, in fact, we are coming out in public. It’s important to come together in the community – all the more so now,” Fogelman said at the time.

Yet, on the morning of Dec. 11, Fogelman received several calls: the menorah had been seriously damaged.

Several of the menorah’s branches had been snapped and mangled; the cardboard sign that read “Happy Chanukah” had been folded. With the ongoing war in Israel, some people questioned whether the menorah’s destruction had been intentional, but the Shrewsbury Police Department on Dec. 12 confirmed that intense wind and rain had caused the damage.

“I was just thinking I needed to get to the menorah, see what we needed to do, what action we needed to take,” Fogelman recalled. “I got to the menorah, and it was totally unusable, smashed to pieces… Right away, we thought of what we could do. Can we even get a menorah here before Hanukkah is over?”

Fogelman’s wife, Sarah, took to Facebook, sharing a GoFundMe with the local community. Within five hours, the fundraiser had eclipsed the $2,500 goal, ultimately raising over $4,200 from 102 donors. 

“I was really surprised how fast, how much support – I was surprised. We thought that if we got to half of [the menorah cost], we’ll figure out the rest of the money somehow,” said Fogelman, who runs the Chabad of Shrewsbury. “I was really encouraged and enthused.”

“There was a tremendous response from the Shrewsbury community,” he added.

Although the menorah damage had been distressing to many, Fogelman saw an opportunity. With the leftover GoFundMe funds, the community was invited to the Town Common on Thursday to see a new, bigger and brighter menorah lit. 

And on Dec. 14, the last night of Hanukkah, the community gathered once more. Fogelman installed the new, nine-foot, sturdy menorah in the morning, and at 4:00 p.m., hundreds of locals watched as it was lit. This 52-pound, aluminum menorah wouldn’t snap anytime soon.

“I don’t even have words to describe how big a deal it is. The whole message of Hanukkah is ‘a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.’ There’s a lot of darkness in the world… There’s a ton of light [here] in Shrewsbury, in the rest of the state, and in the rest of the world,” Fogelman said.

Andrea Castinetti, who sponsored the event, lit the shamash, and Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) spoke at the event. And, of course, everyone helped themselves to plenty of food.  

“We’re here – we won, we got the menorah up. We’re excited to have a really great turnout here,” Fogelman said while watching the masses of Shrewsbury residents admire the menorah. 

For more information on the Chabad of Shrewsbury, visit https://www.umassbikurcholim.com/

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