Hanukkah warms a crisp night; Menorah lighted for candle-a-day commemoration.
SHREWSBURY - On a night when the temperature hovered around 20 degrees and the air felt even colder, a group of people huddled together on the Common and shared the warmth of two tiny flickering flames.
They gathered yesterday evening in the town center to light a menorah, marking the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
The menorah holds nine lights, one for each night of the holiday and another to light those; last night the one in the center and one at the end were lighted.
Rabbi Michoel Green of the Chabad Jewish Center in Westboro staked a ladder into the icy ground and fiddled with a Tiki torch.
"We are very cold physically," he told the shivering families, "but spiritually we're going to feel warm with our Tiki lights."
The rabbi said Hanukkah is about shedding light on darkness in the world.
"We're not celebrating the military victory," he said, referring to a small band of Jews' implausible defeat of a massive Greek army more than 2,000 years ago. "We are celebrating the good (they) were able to share after that."
Jews commemorate the eight-day holiday by lighting an additional candle on the menorah each night until all the candles are lighted. The menorah represents the "great miracle" said to have occurred after the battle centuries ago, when one day's supply of oil continued to burn for eight days straight.
Yesterday, over the racket of passing traffic, families recited three blessings, then cheered as Rabbi Green and Selectman John I. Lebeaux lighted the menorah.
Then they munched on doughnuts and hot potato latkes, and sang and danced in a circle while father and son David and Ariel Wexler played traditional Hanukkah songs on a trumpet and trombone.
Mr. Lebeaux called the story of Hanukkah a story for all Americans, because it is about freedom of religion.
Menorah lightings are also scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the rotary in downtown Westboro, and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the JC Penney court of Solomon Pond Mall on the Berlin-Marlboro line.
CUTLINE: Shrewsbury Selectman John I. Lebeaux lights the menorah last night on the Common.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS