Warwick residents celebrate Chanukah at Menorah lighting

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    WARWICK-Although it rained, heavy at times, on Tuesday evening, Dec. 7, a respectable crowd of local residents arrived at Lewis Park for the 11th anniversary of the lighting of the Menorah on the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. In 1994, Moshe Schwartzberg, owner of Forever Jewelers and then Chairman of the Warwick Merchants Guild, began officiating at the Menorah lighting at Railroad Green which is now the Village Park. Since that time Schwartzberg and his wife, Doris and their daughters Sarah and Amy continued to improve the celebration adding music and serving traditional potato latkes, donuts and "gelt" candies wrapped in gold tinfoil. They also introduced games for the children including spinning the dreidel. Attendance has grown each year. This year's Menorah lighting was also graced by the presence of Rabbi Meir Borenstein of Goshen. "Rabbi Borenstein had heard that we were doing this," said Schwartzberg. "He insisted on bringing kosher latkes and donuts. And he also handed out menorahs as gifts for the people who braved the bad weather to come to our celebration." The ancient story has been retold over and over but when Warwick resident Moshe Schwartzberg explains what the festival commemorates, he does so in a special way so that the children can understand. Using terms such as "the good guys" and "the bad guys," and showing drawings in a storybook, he told how the Temple of Jerusalem was rededicated following its recapture after occupation and defilement by Antiochus IV. The problem, he told them, was that there was not enough oil to light the nine lamps of the Menorah for more than a short time. But by a miracle, and in answer to everyone's prayers, the lamps burned for eight days, a sufficient time to replenish the oil. "Blessed are you Hashem our God King of the universe," Schwartzberg read aloud, "who has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season." And then he continued, "Baruch ata Adonai . . ." Before lighting the center lamp and first lamp of the eight day festival, Schwartzberg read all the sacred prayers, first in English so that everyone would understand, and then in Hebrew, according to the tradition of the ceremony.