The solar-powered menorah on the Woodstock Village Green, to be lit for the holiday season at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, December 1 — the fourth night of Hannukah — was a first when it was designed, announced and inaugurated two years ago. Now, it’s yet another Woodstock tradition, progressive and the sort of event that fills the Village Green for a big, fun-filled party.
“We use candles for the actual lighting,” said Rabbi Avrohim Itkin of Chabad of Ulster County of the coming event, one of many around the region that his Kingston-based Lubavitcher congregation is hosting in the coming week. “We’ll have cider and latkes, doughnuts and presents for the kids. There’ll be music, it being Woodstock, and we expect as in previous years that we’ll fill the Village Green.”
In Kingston, the Chabad is holding a public menorah lighting at its own Agudas Achim, at 254 Lucas Avenue, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, in tandem with Dunkin’ Donuts and a free hot dairy buffet for all. Then, on Sunday, December 1, there will be a Special Children’s Program at Mac Fitness on Rt. 9W from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that includes lunch and activities for a small price per family (RSVP to 334-9044 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Other events are taking place on Sunday evening and Tuesday in Ellenville, as well as at several senior homes in the Kingston area.
Rabbi Itkin said that while there had long been a menorah on the Woodstock Village Green, it was always minimized by the lack of electricity at the site…forcing the use of candles only or battery-powered LED lights until a solar-powered menorah was designed using spare parts purchased at a local store.
“While not suitable to fulfill the mitzvah of menorah lighting which requires fire as the source of light, the idea of this public menorah is to help raise awareness of Chanukah and inspire pride in the Jewish Festival of Lights, the Chabad has noted.
Hannukah started this year on Thursday night, November 28, and runs through Thursday, December 5. And this is the first time its first day has fallen on Thanksgiving since the fourth Thursday of November was officially made the big turkey feast day in 1942. The next time this is expected to happen. The last time Hannukah fell on the fourth Thursday in November was 1888. According to the New York Daily News, the next time Thanksgiving and the first day of Hannukah coincide will be in 70,043 years.
The problem is the nature of the Jewish calendar is lunar, with months generally lined up with the 29-day cycle between new moons…about two weeks shorter than the 365-day solar year. Along with the fact that a 19-year cycle was set up years ago to keep certain holidays seasonally aligned…all of which means the 25th of Kislev can wander by about four weeks, from late November to late December. And that’s without looking at the math, and reasoning.
Given that the usual problem for many is a quiet battle between Christmas and Hannukah, raising the profile of presents for kids in recent decades, this may all be a blessing…given the holiday’s less-than-strict stature.
Woodstock’s Village Green menorah lighting events start at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, December 1, with latkes (potato pancakes), doughnuts, apple cider and merriment.
For further information on it and other Hannukah events being sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of Ulster County, including events in Kingston, call 331-1176 or visit www.chabadofulstercounty.org.