CT News

New Haven community passes the flame from generation to generation

By Maya McFadden

This article is reprinted with permission from New Haven Independent (newhavenindependent.org). It has been lightly edited for space.

A bright and symbolic flame of “tradition” and a “brighter day” was passed from generation to generation during rush hour at Union Station in New Haven at the onset of the third night of Chanukah.

Dozens of commuters and others participated in the menorah lighting ceremony, held on Tuesday evening, Nov. 30.

The ceremony — organized by Dina and Rabbi Mendy Hecht and sponsored by the Sachs family, Cherry Hill Construction, Chabad of Downtown New Haven, and Park New Haven — was hosted on the second floor of Union Station.

The evening began with donuts and finger foods, and music provided by saxophonist Yehuda Russell. 

The ceremony ended with an intergenerational passing of the flame to light four candles of the menorah.

Rabbi Hecht shared with those gathered the 2,000-year-old story of Chanukah and encouraged the group to use their menorahs to bring light to the world.

Fifth-grader Lily Wittenstein.

Eleven-year-old Lily Wittenstein described Chanukah as a part of “who I am, what I believe in, what I celebrate, and the story of my ancestors.”

“The story of Chanukah also reminds me that many groups continue to be discriminated against here in New Haven, across the country, and around the world.,” she said. “I am compelled to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I am encouraged to be an activist in my own community and an advocate around the world.

“When I reflect on the story of Chanukah, I see that standing up to injustice is possible. It takes a lot of determination, but if you truly believe in what you are doing, you can make a difference, just like Judah and the Macabees did.”

Mayor Justin Elicker described the eight day commemoration as a celebration of a miracle.

“I think it’s about symbolism around life, because in today’s world, there is a lot of darkness around us,” Elicker said. “And one point of light can extinguish thousands of points of darkness. I’ve seen not just one but so many points of light throughout these past two years that I’ve been mayor. In the way that our community supports each other. In the way that our community rejects forms of hate and comes together.”

“We can and must bring our luminous brilliant selves out there to the world and actually make a difference,” he said.

Main Photo: Daniel Mowerman passes flame to Jessie Pearl and son Levi Pearl.

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