WALLINGFORD – Members of the Chabad of Wallingford gathered at the Town Green to celebrate Hanukkah with the annual menorah lighting on Thursday night.
Thursday marked the fifth night of Hanukkah, so five candles were lit on the large menorah outside the old railroad station. The ceremony, now in its 14th year, usually takes place on Sundays, but the group held a celebration at the Chabad Jewish Center to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday. The center, which has over five thousand locations worldwide, has been doing public lightings for three decades.
“It’s a networking of outreach,” said Lawrence Kirchhmeier, who handed out menorah kits to those who battled the cold to celebrate. “We’ve had people drive by in the past when we were lighting the menorah, and later we see them at the Friday service. Go figure.”
Rabbi Baruch Kaplan lit the menorah after the crowd all had lit candles in hand. The group joined in song together before and after the menorah lighting, as the candle flames fought against the cold evening breeze.
“We were lucky tonight,” Kaplan said. “It’s almost 40 degrees right now. We’ve been out here when it was about 10.”
Guests warmed themselves with hot chocolate and snacks, including chips, popcorn and donuts, which came from New York. Kaplan estimated that 80 dozen donuts were delivered to the Chabad’s main center in New Haven, where they were distributed to surrounding towns for the lighting ceremonies. According to Kaplan, foods like donuts and chips, which are fried in oil, are eaten as a way to commemorate the pure oil that was used to light the original menorah.
“We’re going big with the donuts,” Kaplan laughed. “All the good saturated fats.”
Prior to the lighting, parents passed around menorah necklaces while children colored their own menorahs, while enjoying Hebrew music playing in the background.
“This adds charm to Wallingford,” Kaplan said. “It’s our way to share the light with everyone.”