Nine-foot menorah lights up S-burg

Pocono Record Writer

STROUDSBURG — As the covers were placed back on the two glowing lamps on the nine-foot-high menorah in Courthouse Square Tuesday, the crowd gathered for the celebration cheered.

Rabbi Mendel Bendet, director of the Jewish outreach group Chabad-Lubavitch, organized the event. He compared individuals to lamp lighters who chase away darkness.

"The darkness is temporary," he said. "Let's light up the night."

About 75 people gathered for the lighting ceremony in downtown Stroudsburg in the drizzly darkness to commemorate the beginning of Hanukkah.

It was the first time a menorah has been lit in the square. Stroudsburg Mayor Jonathan Mark said he hopes the event can be annual.

"We've had a Christmas tree lighting for 10 years and I hope we can light the menorah for the next 10 years, and the next 100 years," he said.

After the lighting, Bendet's relatives handed out doughnuts to the crowd.

"We eat oily foods to celebrate the miracle that happened with oil," said 12-year-old Berel Slavin as he helped distribute doughnuts.

Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Jews' 165 B.C. victory over the Syrians. To celebrate, the Jews wanted to light the menorah, but they could find only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. The oil lasted for eight days.

Bendet said the county commissioners were very receptive when he suggested the lighting ceremony in the square.

"All I can say to the commissioners is, 'Thank you,'" he said. "Everyone wants to see this become an annual event."

Since the metal menorah is considered a structure by the county, it can't stay in Courthouse Square. Bendet said the menorah will be displayed in front of his home off Tanite Road in Stroud Township, where his congregation meets, unless he finds a more public place to display it.

David Brodsky of Stroudsburg, a member of Bendet's congregation, attended the ceremony.

"We've never had it before. It shows we are part of the community. It's nice to see it done."

Marlene Goldman of Albrightsville, also a member of Bendet's congregation, said she doesn't have a similar celebration near her home.

"We see them in people's homes. This is really nice to see," she said.