Community members and governor-elect Maura Healey joined the Chabad of Downtown Boston on Sunday for the 39th annual Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony on Boston Common, held for the first time in two years after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily disrupted the celebration.
Rabbi Yosef Zaklos, director of the Chabad of Downtown Boston, led the ceremony marking the beginning of the eight-day holiday as members and supporters of the local Jewish community gathered at sundown in the chill December air.
“The lighting of the menorah in the Boston Common is a wonderful symbol of the religious diversity that is the hallmark of Boston and of this great country,” Zaklos said in a statement provided by organizers of the event. “We are honored that Governor Elect Maura Healey has chosen to participate in this celebration.”
Rabbi Marc Baker, president and chief executive of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, said the holiday provides a message of strength and solidarity — and an opportunity to work against rising antisemitism across the nation.
“Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates resilience and resistance, courage and strength in the face of anyone who would try to do us harm or who would try to crush our spirits,” Baker said at the ceremony, according to video broadcast by WHDH-TV. “We need to use the light, the power of one candle, and that multiplier over the next week to shine a light on antisemitism.”
Rabbi Chaim Prus, director of the Chabad of Eastern Massachusetts and Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League in New England, attended the celebration as part of a global Hanukkah awareness campaign that will bring together 8 million Jewish people in more than 100 countries, according to the statement from organizers.
After the ceremony, the menorah stood tall outside the Park Street MBTA station, next to a scissor lift that is used to raise a rabbi to light the flame each day of the holiday.
Families and friends, bundled up for the cold night, lingered in the park to take photographs with the menorah and Christmas tree nearby, surrounded by other trees decorated with strings of holiday lights.
“People are preparing to celebrate with family and friends, to fill their homes with the light of Hanukkah, and there’s a palpable joy,” Shayndel Zaklos, director of programming at Chabad of Downtown Boston, said in the statement. “The public Hanukkah celebration is about sharing this light and joy with the broader community and the entire Boston.”
Madison Mercado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.