Community unites with lights at Hanukkah

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  • Photos by Dr. Michael Hoffman Tuxedo Town Supervisor Michael Rost lights the "shamash" candle, the first candle, of the menorah outside the Tuxedo Train Station on the second night of Hanukkah.

  • At the Monroe Menorah Lighting on the first night of Hanukkah following the Gelt Drop: Pictured from left to right are: Chana Burston, Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone, Monroe Village Mayor Neil Dwyer and Rabbi Pesach Burston.

— The Orange County community gathered to celebrate Chanukah together at various events hosted by Chabad of Orange County, directed by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston.

“Hanukkah has a universal message,” said Rabbi Pesach Burston. “It demonstrates light over darkness, freedom over oppression and religious freedom. It is no wonder, then, that hundreds of Orange County residents participated in the fun and festive events.”

First nightThe first night of Hanukkah was celebrated in the Village of Monroe with a Firetruck Gelt Drop and Menorah Lighting. A large crowed was welcomed by the Allegro Youth Orchestra.

More than 2,000 chocolate coins dropped from a fire truck. Among the silver coins were eight golden ones. To find one was to go home with special Hanukkah packages distributed by the elected officials.

A festive Menorah lighting followed, lit by Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone, Monroe Village Mayor Neil Dwyer and Chabad Board Member Siggy Toback.

The event also featured latkes, hot cocoa and donuts. The evening was made possible thanks to the Monroe Fire and Police Departments.

Second nightOn the second night of Hanukkah, Chabad hosted a Menorah Lighting at the train station in Tuxedo.

Tuxedo Town Supervisor Mike Rost lit the shamash.

“The shamash serves the other candles,” Rabbi Pesach Burston said, “so we have a human shamash - a town official - to light the shamash.”

The rabbi explained the significance of having government officials at the Menorah lighting.

“There was a time when practice of Judaism was outlawed,” he said. “Government officials and law enforcement would stop these events and even persecute those who participated. How fortunate we are to live in a time and place where not only can we can celebrate religious freedom, but have the support of government.”

Following the lighting and Chanukah songs, a reception was held in the Community Room in the iconic train station, with latkes, doughnuts, hot cocoa and crafts. Yeshiva student Eli Rimler played Hanukkah music on his keyboard.

These were followed by festive events in Chester and Goshen.

All nights and days“The message of Hanukkah does not end when Hanukkah,” explained Chana Burston. “The spirit of Hanukkah should last not just for eight nights, but for all days of the year.”

To learn more about Chabad of Orange County’s community events and programs, contact Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston at 845-782-2770, email, or visit

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