MONROE — Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, is celebrated this year Tuesday, Dec. 12, through Wednesday, Dec. 20, with the kindling of the first candle on next Tuesday evening. Chabad of Orange County, headed by Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston, is providing an array of festive Hanukkah celebrations for all ages, regardless of background or affiliation. Highlights this year include the popular fire truck Hanukah Gelt (chocolate coins) drop at the Menorah Lighting in Monroe, the lighting of a Military Menorah in Chester, a Tuxedo Menorah Lighting as well as a community-wide Menorah Contest. “The Menorah serves as a symbol of Orange County’s dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G-d freely, openly, and with pride,” Rabbi Pesach Burston said in his press release detailing the activities. “Specifically in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution, the Menorah takes on profound significance, embodying both religious and constitutional principles.” The eventsChabad will hold several public Menorah lightings, which all are welcome. The ceremonies will include the traditional lighting of the menorah, as well as singing of Hanukah songs, “dreidels,” hot latkes and other traditional Hanukah treats such as doughnuts and chocolate “gelt.” Local dignitaries will be joining and sharing words of greeting. Lightings will be held in Tuxedo, Monroe and Chester: Menorah lighting and fire truck gelt drop in Monroe – Tuesday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m., at the Commuter Parking Lot on Millpond Parkway, just across the Crane Park Island gazebo. Menorah lighting ceremony and Hanukah refreshments will be served. This event also will feature a Hanukah Fire Truck Bucket Gelt (Chocolate Coins) Drop. “Let it rain – thousands of chocolate coins!” said Chana Burston, co-director of Chabad, “and ‘Let it Glow’ with the Hanukah lights.” The Fire Truck Bucket Gelt Drop is being made possible thanks to the Village of Monroe Fire Department and the Monroe Police Department. This event is free of charge. Military Mitzvah Menorah and Community Hanukah Party in Chester - Wednesday, Dec. 13, 5 p.m. Chabad will hold its annual grand Hanukah party at Colonial Lanes in Chester. This year, there will be a lighting of a Military Menorah, made of canteens used by soldiers, set atop of a donation-box for soldiers. This unique “Hanukah for a Cause” menorah, “arming our soldiers with light and love” will hold winter donation for soldiers and benefit out troops in the U.S. and Israel. Participants are encouraged to bring new adult gloves, scarves, hats, ear muffs and leg warmers which will be donated to soldiers. Items must be new with tags.Alternatively, donations can be made to Chabad of Orange County and items will be purchased. This community Hanukah party will also feature buffet dinner, Hanukah crafts, latkes, doughnuts, dreidels, bowling, Hebrew School choir, and entertainment by “Modern Mentalist & Magician” Devonte. The event will be held Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, 5 p.m at Colonial Lanes, 78 Brookside Ave., Che.ster. There is a nominal entrance fee of $15 per person in advance, $18 at the door. Sponsorships are available. Register online www.ChabadOrange.com/RSVP or call 845-782-2770. Menorah Lighting and Reception in Tuxedo – Thursday, Dec. 14. Community Menorah Lighting and Reception at the Tuxedo Train Station. Menorah lighting will be outdoors, followed by reception inside the train station. Creative Menorah Contest: Chabad is also offering a county-wide “Creative Menorah Contest” for boys and girls ages 5 to 13. The first-prize winner will take home a DB Power MJX Drone with Wi-Fi Camera; the second-prize winner will receive a Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa 7” and the third-prize winner will enjoy an Edible Hanukah House. In addition, all entering will win a Hanukah-themed prize. The contest criteria is for participants to create a Menorah made of any material. Candles must be at even height, in a straight line, with the exception of the shamash candle lower, higher or removed from the others. Contest entries should be brought to Chabad’s Grand Hanukah Bowl on Dec. 13th where they will be judged and winners announced at the end of the evening. All entering please write Chana@chabadorange with name and address to ensure a spot in the contest.Chanukah Tot Party: A Hanukah-themed tot event for mothers and children will feature Hanukah crafts, songs, puppet show and special treats for babies and toddlers newborn to four-years old. There will also be an Elephant Gift Exchange for the moms. This event will be held on Monday, Dec. 11, at 10 a.m. at the Chabad Center in Chester. CTeen Chanukah Jewish Heritage Night with the Nets: Chabad invites Jewish high school teens to join the CTeen (Chabad Teens) group on a trip to the Net’s Game at the Barclay Center on Dec. 17. This Jewish Heritage Night will feature pre-game and half-time Home High Five Line, Jewish concert at half time and post-game free throws. For more information, to RSVP to Chabad’s Chanukah programs and for Chabad’s online Chanukah Guide, log onto www.ChabadOrange.com, call 845-782-2770 or email rabbi@ChabadOrange.com.