MONROE, CT — Rabbi Joseph Stock, of the Mishkan Israel Day Camp, celebrated the American principle of freedom of religion in his words to the crowd gathered on the Monroe green on a chilly Monday night, before climbing a ladder to light the Menorah in recognition of the second day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
“Everything that happens, everything that we experience is by divine providence, and so the fact that we’re gathered here in this public area, we are blessed with the ability to have freedom of religion and to be able to worship God and acknowledge that God is present in every single facet of our lives,” Stock said.
As a tribute to the “kindness and gracious of this wonderful country we are blessed to be living in” the rabbi said the “National Anthem” would be played after the lighting.
Stock noted how the country recently celebrated Thanksgiving, which is an observance acknowledging there is a creator, a God who “in his infinite kindness, wisdom and graciousness allows us to exist every single day.”
“So we have the observance of Thanksgiving, but the fact is every single day is a day of thanksgiving,” Stock said.
Among the attendees of the Menorah lighting Monday were First Selectman Ken Kellogg, State Rep. Tony Scott, R-112th, and Police Chief John Salvatore.
“I am very proud that we have continued this tradition here in the town of Monroe, to have the Menorah lighting here on the public green,” Kellogg said, “and it is something very cherished in our nation, that we have this freedom of religion. Monroe is a very welcoming community and we want to honor and celebrate all faiths.”
The first selectman wished everyone a happy Hanukkah and thanked Rabbi Stock for bringing the event to the green, and Scott and Salvatore for attending.
Stock echoed those sentiments, adding, “I want to give a special shoutout to all of the police officers and firefighters who are working 24/7 to keep us safe and make sure that we are very well protected and taken care of. Thank you so much.”
Rabbi Joseph Torenheim told the crowd the story of Hanukkah and how the Jews defeated Syrian armies in 168 BCE, against tremendous odds, and resisted Greek assimilation. While rededicating the Temple, only a small jar of olive oil, enough to light the Menorah for one day, could be found. But through a miracle, it lasted for eight nights.
There comes a time when people feel like they are in the dark, whether physically or spiritually, and there is a need to find light, and every day adds a little bit more light, Torenheim said of the lesson of the holiday.
“We pray to God that we should see miracles in our time,” he said.
Isack Waserman of Monroe recited the blessing and everyone sang the “Maoz Tzur” after Rabbi Stock lit the Menorah. After the “National Anthem,” men danced by the Menorah.