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Gloucester tradition cast in new light with Lobster Trap Menorah

In Gloucester, Phoebe Potts posed by the giant menorah made of lobster traps that stands outside Temple Ahavat Achim. It will be lit on Tuesday evening.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

The Lobster Trap Christmas Tree is a tradition that only a historic fishing community like Gloucester could pull off. This year, the Jewish community at the city’s Temple Ahavat Achim wanted to join the holiday excitement — and thus was born the idea for the Lobster Trap Menorah.

Phoebe Potts, director of the Sylvia Cohen Religious School at the temple, said the Lobster Trap Menorah is a way for the small Jewish community in Gloucester to “share their holiday lights” with the city.

“Santa kind of has this [month] locked up; it’s his gig,” Potts said. “This is a way for Jewish kids of Gloucester to share in . . . the season.”


The 14-foot-tall, 20-foot-wide menorah is made of 22 lobster traps, nine buoys that represent the candles, and LED lights. It will be lit outside the temple at 86 Middle St. Tuesday evening to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.

“It’s funny because we don’t eat lobster,” Potts said, citing the Jewish community’s kosher diet.

Potts said the city’s lobster trap Christmas tree has always been a way for Gloucester to highlight its lobstering history, which dates back to the 1600s, as well as celebrate the holidays. The menorah will serve a similar purpose, she said.

“We’re from Gloucester, and we’re different,” Potts said. “We’re resourceful and loyal to where we’re from.”

Potts said the menorah, which will be around the corner from the tree, has been widely embraced by the city government, as well as the lobstermen, who donated their traps for the tree and the menorah.

“The energy around this is amazing,” Potts said.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at trisha.thadani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani.