Story Kristina Hoti
A crowd gathered in Lewis Park in the Village of Warwick on Sun., Dec. 2, for the Menorah lighting at sunset, to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. Warwick residents and local business owners, Moshe and Doris Schwartzberg, and their daughter, Sarah Carew, organized and sponsored the event.
Although overcast, the night was mild and the rain held off as guests joked to Schwartzberg saying, “You are here in all types of weather- rain or shine!”
Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard and Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton were in attendance as well. During the event, Schwartzberg told the story of Hanukkah and the Maccabees, who in 168 BC defended their faith against Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who outlawed the Jewish faith, and whose armies desecrated their temple.
Schwartzberg gave a blessing of the Menorah, in both English and Hebrew, and said the Shehecheyanu blessing, which is said on the first night of Hanukkah. At sunset, just a few minutes before 5 p.m., Schwartzberg lit the shamash, which is the center candle of the Menorah, and that from which the others are lit. The first candle was then lit, and the festive crowd walked to Schwartzberg’s restaurant, Wolfie’s, where the room had been cleared and set for a party.
Latkes, donuts, and apple cider were served at Wolfie’s, along with chocolate gelt and plastic dreidels for the children. While getting ready to light the Menorah inside Wolfie’s with actual candles, Schwartzberg talked of how it takes a surprising number of candles to keep the Menorah lights burning for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
There are many reasons for the custom of giving gelt (money) at Hanukkah, one of which is the Talmud’s statement that if the poor cannot afford to buy both Hanukkah candles and their ceremonial kiddush wine, the candles must take precedence. Giving gelt ensured that the poor had the money needed for candles.
Today, chocolate gelt wrapped in shiny gold foil is enjoyed by children at many Hanukkah celebrations, and the party at Wolflie’s was no exception. The children enjoyed their sweets and dreidel toys.