That theme, fresh in the mind of post-Sandy Long Islanders, will resonate this year as Jews celebrate the eight-day festival, which begins Saturday evening.
"Local North Shore families endured great difficulty in early November, living without power for days or weeks, some being displaced from their homes," said Rabbi Shalom Paltiel, spiritual leader of Chabad of Port Washington. "We all got the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness which comes from being in such a situation."
The plight of recovering Long Islanders will even be recognized by the White House. A brass Menorah from Temple Israel of Long Beach rescued from the storm-ravaged synagogue will be displayed at a reception hosted by President and Mrs. Obama on Dec. 13.
Hope and renewal, light from darkness, is the centuries-old theme of Chanukah. The holiday, derived from a number of ancient sources, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Following the defeat of Antiochus, the Temple was liberated and rededicated. First, it had to be ritually cleansed.
Olive oil was needed for the process, but there was only enough oil to burn for one day. Despite the problem with this ancient power grid, somehow the lamp burned for eight days, according to the Talmud. The miracle is remembered to this day.
Perhaps the biggest Long Island public celebration will be at Port Washington's Long Island Rail Road station, where an estimated 1,000 people will watch the lighting of a giant Menorah, the 9-stemmed candelabrum symbolic of the holiday.
Holiday festivities will include live music, distribution of Chanukah gifts and hot Chanukah "latkes" (traditional potato pancake delicacies), and lively dancing beginning at 6 p.m. Dignitaries and community leaders will be on hand to greet the crowd. About 6:30 p.m., the 12 foot-Menorah will be kindled by Rabbi Paltiel.
"Many Jews and gentiles throughout the North Shore area have made this event a family tradition," he said.
The Port Washington event on Main Street is sponsored by Chabad of Port Washington. Chabad is a worldwide Jewish educational and outreach organization.
Synagogues across the area will hold their own holiday ceremonies. Many area celebrations are also planned: These are just a few:
- Fairway Market; public Menorah lighting. Tuesday Dec. 11, beginning at 4:30 p.m., sponsored in conjunction with the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County. Food, songs and goodie bags for the kids.
- North Hempstead Town Hall Menorah lighting takes place at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.
- Congregation Tifereth Israel Fri. Dec. 7 at 7:30 pm "Learn about Chanukah music with Cantor Gustavo" Chanukah candle lighting at 5:09 p.m. Saturday.
- Public Menorah Lighting, led by Congregation Simchat HaLev; Jackson Avenue across from the LIRR station, nightly at 4 p.m. beginning Saturday.
- Hewlett Menorah Lighting, a grand Menorah at the corner of Broadway and East Rockway Road on Monday, Dec. 10 at 5:15 p.m. More events here.
- The Jean Fischman Chabad Center of the Five Towns presents Chanukah in the Park: a Free Festival of Lights and Song on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Andrew J. Parse Park (Cedarhust Park). More events here.
- The Long Island Children's Museum is hosting a Festival of Lights on Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. Learning and crafts. Fee: $3 with museum admission ($2 for LICM members)
Party at Hot Skates on Merrick Road in Lynbrook. A family Hanukkah
party with skating, a menorah lighting, doughnuts, dreidels, and hot
dogs. Sunday, Dec. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m.
- There will be a Menorah Lighting at the East Meadow Jewish Center, located at 1400 Prospect Ave. daily. Dec. 8 at 5:25 p.m., Dec. 9 at 4:45 p.m., Dec. 10 at 4:05 p.m., Dec. 13 at 6:15 p.m., Dec. 14 at 4:05 p.m., Dec. 15 at 5:25 p.m.
- Great Menorah Car Parade & Grand Menorah Lighting will take place at the Merrick Golf Course Parking Lot, located at 2550 Clubhouse Road. Presented by the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, this event is on Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. More events here.
- Hanukkah Wonderland is being hosted by the Chabad of Merrick-Bellmore-Wantagh at the Merrick Road Park Golf Course, located at 2550 Clubhouse Road. Coin-orah, Chanukah sand-art. Sunday, Dec. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. Suggested donation is $7 per child/$18 max per family.
Story by Joe Dowd