Orange community gathers to light the Hanukkah menorah

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ORANGE, NJ — Orange held its annual Hanukkah menorah lighting in front of Town Hall on Sunday, Dec. 18, hosted by Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten. The menorah was lit by Rabbi Mordechai Kanelsky. 

Kanelsky and his organization, Bris Avrohom, have held this ceremony in Orange for seven years. The organization travels to more than 140 municipalities each year during Hanukkah to host public menorah lightings. 

“We hold this annual ceremony to mark a 2,500-year-long tradition of commemorating God by lighting the menorah,” Kanelsky said at the event. “Thank you to the mayor and thank you to everyone in attendance for this event. May God give you many years of health and happiness.”

Wooten said she was proud to be a part of this event for her third year.

“I love being a part of this ceremony, to show appreciation and support to members of my family who are Jewish and well as the Jewish community in Orange as a whole,” Wooten said.

During the ceremony, Mayor Dwayne D. Warren delivered a proclamation promoting education and recognition of the Jewish holiday and culture.

“The proclamation is a symbol of support that we reaffirm each year for the Jewish community in Orange at this ceremony,” Warren said.

Orange has a deep history and connection with the Jewish communities in the area; though it has now dwindled, the Jewish population of Orange was once large.

Through this annual proclamation, Warren and the city of Orange reaffirm their commitment to safeguarding and collaborating with the city’s Jewish citizens on various city efforts.

“This community has a deep history of providing assistance to fight discrimination and housing inequality, and support education,” Warren said.

Councilmen Clifford Ross and Weldon Montague III both spoke at the event, to show their support for the Jewish community.

“This ceremony serves as a reminder to embrace and support all different cultures and religions — a reminder to all love each other and treat each other with dignity and respect,” Ross said at the event.

Kanelsky also spoke about the significance of lighting the Hanukkah candles publicly and proudly, due to the current political and social atmosphere.

“A ceremony like this is especially important now with the rise of antisemitism and attacks that have been occurring against the Jewish community,” Kanelsky said. “To light the menorah is to light the world, and we are looking to light the world with love, eliminating hate in the process.”

Warren said that ceremonies like this give him hope for the future.

“Hopefully moments like this will allow for more conflict resolution and unity,” Warren said.

Photos by Javon Ross