The joy of getting together safely during the pandemic was palpable at Chabad’s “Hanukkah Drive-In Experience,” hosted by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston in the parking lot of the Chabad Center in Chester.
The festive event began with a community Menorah lighting of a six-foot menorah. The ceremony honored local leaders and front-line workers “who are pillars of light during the darkness of the pandemic,” said Chana Burston. “I think we can all use a little bit of light right now!”
Rabbi Pesach said when inviting the large crowd to come together with social distance to light the menorah. The “human candles” were: County Executive Steve Neuhaus; Dr. Jennifer Reich of Highland Mills; paramedic/first responders Lee and Michelle Sentell of Monroe; nurse Serach Callan of Goshen; Police Officer Michael Cohn of Warwick; teacher Alan Friedman of Pine Bush; pastoral care: Gabe Morrow and Father Simon of Garnet Health Medical Center in the Town of Wallkill; Chabad Cares: Ira Kanis of Monroe and Siggy Toback of Middletown; CTeen/Youth leader Amir Mosker of Monroe.
Al Muhlrad of Goshen recited the memorial Kaddish prayer in memory of all those lost during the pandemic.
Chabad president Gil Goetz handed each of the honorees a Certificate of Appreciation and Chana Burston presented them with a gift of a “Happy Chanukah” cashmere scarf “for being a source of warmth and light during the darkness of this pandemic.”
The Menorah’s message
“We all learned how contagious a virus can be,” Rabbi Pesach said just before the candles were lit from the shamash. “But you know what else is also contagious?”
“Light!” everyone said.
“Watch how much light can spread from just one candle!”
As each of the eight candles were lit from the single shamash, the rabbi said, “Let’s be spreaders of light and good, not germs.”
In his remarks, County Executive Steve Neuhaus expressed his gratitude for all the messages of support he received from the congregation during the pandemic.
“The virus has taught us how important we are to each other,” he said. “This light brings hope. It’s been tough on us all. But this is the beginning of the end of this. We have to continue to take care of each other.”
Serach Callan of Goshen, who was one of the honorees as a nurse, later shared that this was “one of the most beautiful recognitions I’ve ever received. Thank you, Chana and Rabbi Pesach, for all you do and for yet another beautiful night. Very much appreciated.”
For more information, contact Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston at 845-782-2770, rabbi@ChabadOrange.com or visit www.ChabadOrange.com.