Tags Posts tagged with "Hanukkah"


By Raymond Janis

Public officials, faith leaders and residents gathered at Smithtown Town Hall Monday night, Dec. 11, braving low temperatures and frequent gusts of wind for a menorah lighting ceremony.

Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) tied this year’s annual Hanukkah service to the ongoing geopolitical turmoil abroad and rising antisemitism in the United States.

“This year’s celebration is a commitment to our family, friends and neighbors,” he said. “It is a promise as we stand side by side to extinguish antisemitism as we light the night sky tonight, and we hope for peace both abroad and here at home.”

Rabbi Mendel Teldon of Chabad of Mid Suffolk presided over the prayer service. He thanked the strong show of community support during the ceremony, reflecting upon the example of the Maccabees in the face of religious persecution in Israel and America.

“In Smithtown, we are asked to step up to the plate,” the rabbi said. “Even when there’s opposition, even when there are values that oppose our own and people that will shout us down, a Macabee steps up to the plate.”

Following a blessing from the rabbi and a ceremonial lighting of the menorah, the attendees were greeted with latkes and donuts in the parking lot.

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Rabbi Aaron Benson, of the North Shore Jewish Center, presides over a prayer service Thursday, Dec. 7, during a menorah lighting ceremony at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Raymond Janis

Faith and business leaders, public officials and community members from Port Jefferson Station/Terryville marked the beginning of Hanukkah Thursday, Dec. 7, with a community gathering and menorah lighting service.

The PJS/T Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station. Rabbi Aaron Benson, of the Port Jeff Station-based North Shore Jewish Center, presided over the prayer service.

“In times when we need hope and times when we are struggling in the darkness, the hope, inspiration and strength that we get will come not as some raging fire but a tiny little point of light — just like the menorah here,” he said. Following these remarks, Benson delivered a series of blessings sung aloud by those in attendance.

Chamber president Jen Dzvonar emphasized the importance of this annual event for the chamber and the greater community.

“We believe it is so important to bring all of our community together, especially at this time,” she said. “We are so grateful for Rabbi Benson to always be a part of the chamber and to always do the blessings for us on this day and every year.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) also attended the event. During his remarks, he tied the Hanukkah service to the perseverance of the Jewish people throughout history.

“This holiday was celebrated after a Jewish victory against people that tried to destroy them,” the councilmember said. “I think it speaks to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people, and it speaks to the feeling of optimism and hope.”

The crowd cheered in delight as Kornreich lit the menorah’s first candle.

METRO photo

By Rabbi Aaron Benson

Rabbi Aaron Benson

There would be no miracle of Hanukkah, the eight-day festival which begins this Thursday evening, without there first being darkness.   

Hanukkah is meant to be a time of joy. It is not a major holiday, still it is a time to play games, give gifts and enjoy foods fried in oil, reminiscent of the miracle at the heart of the holiday.  

In ancient times, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled and when the Jews took it back from their oppressors, they found only enough oil to light the sanctuary’s special candelabra, the menorah, for one day.  Since the menorah must always be lit, the Jews did so, and miraculously, the oil burned for eight days during which time more oil was procured. 

But even more important than the oil, the miracle couldn’t have happened if there hadn’t been darkness at first.  

This year, Hanukkah occurs in a time of hatred and war for Israel and the Jewish People. It is a time of suffering for the innocent people of Gaza. It is a time in which Islamophobia has caused violent and deadly attacks on American Muslims; college students in Vermont and a little boy from the same part of Illinois where I grew up. Not to mention all that divides Americans from each other, too. 

This is a Hanukkah of much darkness. 

But it is only out of darkness that light, that miracles can come. 

I am reminded of the final scene from the first season of the HBO series, True Detectives. The two protagonists are discussing the fight against evil, the war between darkness and light. One of the two argues that looking in the night sky, there is far more darkness than the tiny points of light we see, “it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.” The other objects, saying, “You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing … once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

If good people, Jews and non-Jews, can resist the vast darkness that surrounds us and bravely light one little light, we, all of us, will create a miracle. May such a miracle, one that brings understanding and peace, be kindled for us all soon. 

The author is the rabbi of  North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station.


By Heidi Sutton

The humble donut is a treat beloved all over the world, but it takes on special significance when you make sufganiyot for Hanukkah. These deep-fried delicacies have become popular in Israel as a way to symbolize the miracle of the oil lamps that burned one day’s supply of oil for eight days in the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 

Sufganiyot are traditionally filled with jelly or jam, but can also be filled with custard, Nutella, pudding, pumpkin butter, apple butter, or dulce de leche and are are also delicious plain. 

Enjoy this recipe for Sufganiyot, courtesy of Martha Stewart, for your next Hanukkah celebration.


YIELD: Makes 20 donuts


2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

1⁄2 cup warm water (100 to 110 F)

1⁄4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for rolling

2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons salt

3 cups vegetable oil, plus more for bowl

1 cup seedless raspberry jam


In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Place flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center; add eggs, yeast mixture, 1⁄4 cup sugar, butter, nutmeg, and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until a sticky dough forms. On a well-floured work surface, knead until dough is smooth, soft, and bounces back when poked with a finger, about 8 minutes (add more flour, if necessary). Place in an oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, 1 to 11⁄2 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Using a 21⁄2-inch-round cutter or drinking glass, cut 20 rounds. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 F. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slip 4 rounds into oil. Fry until golden, about 40 seconds. Turn donuts over; fry until golden on other side, another 40 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Roll in sugar while warm. Fry all dough, and roll in sugar.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #4 tip with jam. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining donuts.

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Approximately 200 people celebrated the first night of Hanukkah at Village Chabad in East Setauket.

When addressing the attendees, Rabbi Motti Grossbaum talked about the inspiring message of the holiday where even one flame of light can dispel an immense amount of darkness.

“Just like on the menorah itself, every day we must increase on the good we did yesterday and ultimately good will always prevail,” he said.

Setauket Fire Department volunteers were on hand to help with the lighting. Attendees enjoyed a Chocolate Coin “Gelt Drop,” when 2,000 coins were tossed from the top of an extended fire truck bucket up in the air. There were also traditional jelly donuts, hot latkes and hot cocoa for all. Jester Jim performed a juggling show under the Menorah’s glow to conclude the program.

The rabbi invited everyone in attendance to help break a record on the night of Saturday, Dec. 24, for 1,000 Jewish homes in Suffolk and Nassau counties to light menorahs simultaneously on Zoom from the comfort of their own homes. To register, visit Menorah1000.com.

Photos by Gail DeClue


Potato pancakes are traditionally served during Chanukah celebrations. This dish is often referred to as “latkes,” a Yiddish word that loosely translates to “little oily thing.” Potato pancakes are not exclusive to Jewish celebrations and cuisine. Germans have their own variation called “kartoffelpuffer” that can be served with sour cream, applesauce or smoked salmon. The Irish have “boxty,” which may be made with a combination of shredded potato and mashed potato before being fried. Many potato pancake recipes are quite similar. They involve only a few ingredients and fry up in a flash. Some chefs recommend draining the shredded potato prior to cooking so that the pancakes will fry up crispy and not be soggy or break apart.

Enjoy this recipe for Latkes, courtesy of AllRecipes.com


YIELD: Serves 12


3 large potatoes, peeled and shredded

1 small onion, shredded

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed

1/2 cup vegetable oil


1. Place the potatoes and onion into a bowl, and stir in eggs, salt and flour as needed to make the mixture hold together. With wet hands, scoop up about 1/3 cup of the mixture per patty, and form into flat round or oval shapes.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, and gently place the patties into the hot oil. Fry until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp, 5 to 8 minutes, then flip with a spatula and fry the other side until golden.

3. Line a colander or strainer with 2 paper towels, and drain the cooked latkes in the colander. Serve hot.

Photos by Media Origin

Chabad of Huntington Village hosted a Grand Menorah Lighting at the Huntington Village Winter Wonderland at Main Street and Wall Street on Monday, Dec. 19.

Residents were able to witness the lighting and enjoy juggling and fire entertainment by Keith Leaf, doughnuts and more. 


Stock photo

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season.

In the Dec. 1 TBR News Media article, “Check in with each other, yourself before approaching holidays, local doctors urge” by Daniel Dunaief, medical professionals stressed the importance of people visiting or calling loved ones and taking note of their moods.

The doctors had additional excellent advice: Check in with yourself during this busy season, too.

The last few weeks may have been overwhelming for many people with preparing the house for company, decorating and ensuring there’s a special gift for everyone.

While stressing about how clean the house is or if it’s decorated enough, sometimes what gets lost in the mayhem is that this is the season when people make more of an effort to gather, to stop for a bit and to catch up. In the grand scheme, our home doesn’t need to look like it’s ready for a photo shoot with Homes & Gardens to spend quality time with our loved ones.

It’s the time of year when we tend to reach out to those who don’t live near us, too. Whether it’s a call, text, letter or card, it is wonderful when we reconnect and take a trip down memory lane.

As for the stress of gift giving, it doesn’t have to get out of control. Following a budget and avoiding charging presents can go a long way regarding our bank balances. In addition to exchanging presents, there are so many ways to show we care. 

People can also share their talents or skills by gifting a picture they painted or a poem they wrote. A loved one may need help painting a room or raking the leaves. Why not offer the gift of time?

Sometimes the gift of time is the most cherished present of all, and many people, especially parents and grandparents, would appreciate some one-on-one time put aside for them, whether it involves a free or inexpensive activity or just talking over hot beverages.

There’s a sacred side of this season, too, that sometimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle. Just sitting and thinking of the miracles represented by Christmas and Hanukkah can bring much-needed stress relief.

This time of year should be about hope and starting fresh in the new year. The holidays are a time for joy and laughter, a moment to celebrate the many blessings in life. Materialism and commercialization of the holidays and competing with our neighbors over holiday displays may create unnecessary pressures for us, perverting the meaning of the season.

Here’s to a relaxing holiday season filled with family and friends, from TBR News Media.

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Photo by Julianne Mosher

To commemorate the first night of Hanukkah Sunday, Nov. 28, families gathered together at the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Train Car for a ceremony to light the menorah. 

At 4 p.m., just as the sun began to set, Rabbi Aaron Benson led the group in prayer, song and the lighting of a tabletop menorah, as well a large one facing the front of the train car on Route 112. 

“We’re always very pleased to be able to share the holidays with the community and the chamber has been a great partner,” Benson said. “The holiday really is universal in its meaning — the idea of lighting the way during the darkness and freedom for people to express who they are.” 

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On Sunday, Nov. 28, members of the Village Chabad kicked off the Festival of Lights with a joyous celebration.

Rabbi Motti Grossbaum said more than 250 attendees attended the menorah lighting on the first night of Hanukkah at the Village Chabad’s center in East Setauket. In addition to lighting the first candle of the 20-foot menorah with help from landscaping company Clovis Outdoor Service’s  bucket truck, there was a juggling show by Jester Jim, a chocolate gelt drop as well as latkes, doughnuts and hot chocolate being served.

Village Chabad has erected public menorahs in the Three Village community for 35 years, including at the Smith Haven Mall and on the lawn of Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, as well as setting up menorahs in local supermarkets and additional public intersections in the area, according to Grossbaum.

At the event, the rabbi encouraged everyone to go home and light their own menorah.

“We should put our menorahs by the window, and if people ask you, say, ‘Yes, I am Jewish, and tonight we are celebrating Hanukkah. I would love to tell you more about it. I would love to give you a latke or a doughnut, and Hanukkah is so much fun,’” he said. “So, tonight is about our rededication. It’s about our education and our commitment to our Jewish pride tonight, for the next eight nights and throughout the year.” 

Last year the Chabad was unable to hold a formal gathering due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It was incredibly encouraging and inspiring to come together safely as a community, young and old, after the challenging time we’ve all been through,” Grossbaum said after the event. “It is clear that the message of Hanukkah is alive today as it ever was … that light, goodness, kindness, unity and hope will always prevail.”