The 'Light' touch: Chabad celebrates Hanukkah fun with community
Updated 4:26 pm, Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Chabad of Westport celebrated Hanukkah by not only lighting the largest menorah in town Tuesday night, but also spreading Festival of Lights' fun throughout the community.
After festivities concluded at Chabad's new home on Wilton Road, more than a dozen cars took to the streets of Westport and Weston festooned with large light-up menorahs on the roofs.
"It's just a very proud display of Jewish pride, which is very much what this holiday is about," said Rabbi Yehuda Kantor. "It's a very joyous occasion, and it gives a lot of identity to the Jewish kids of town."
Nearly 100 children and adults filled what was once the Chabad center, once the Three Bears restaurant, for the celebration, which fell on the fourth night of Hanukkah.
"This is the first time we have our permanent home," said Dina Kantor, "so for Chabad of Westport this is very special."
"Light is metaphorical for good, for things that warm up people's lives," she said.
One of the Hanukkah traditions, she said, "is to put the menorah by the window, so it can be seen. There's a certain sharing of your connection to your heritage. It's a miracle you want people to know about."
"In a country like America you don't have to hide," she added. "You can be proud."
"We celebrate our freedom by lighting the menorah as a community," said Eleanor Cromley of Wilton, who brought her daughter, Naomi, 3, "to remember how the Jews were able to redeem the temple."
For the Brownell family of Westport, the Chabad celebration provided an opportunity to participate in a communal event.
"We're trying to create our own traditions as a family," said Dana Brownell. "We're trying to make is special for the kids."
She said her daughter, Ruby, 3, especially enjoyed coming to Chabad earlier in the week to make doughnuts, one of the traditional foods of Hanukkah.
"We're trying to make Hanukkah a little more festive and be part of a communal experience," said Craig Brownell.
Alisa Kessler of Weston said that Chabad offers "a real sense of community."
"Everything's new when you're a child," she said, "so you really need to have a good foundation to understanding Judaism ... It's not so much for me, but for my child to understand," she said.
"And I feel Yahuda and Dina are so into outreach," Kessler said, commending their work with Chabad's Hebrew school.
"Our job is to bring light into this world and make this world a better place," Rabbi Kantor said.