SCARSDALE, N.Y. Rabbi Velvel Butman of the Chabad of Westchester celebrated the first night of Hanukkah Tuesday by lighting a giant menorah outside the JCC of Mid-Westchester on Wilmot Road.
As a crowd looked on, Butman climbed into the bucket lift of a Con Ed truck and was hoisted high above the treetops, where he sang in Hebrew and lit the first candle on the menorah that overlooks Wilmot Road. The rabbi was then lowered back to the ground where he gave each child $2 one to keep and one to use to help someone else.
"When you share, you get to enjoy the second one, too," he told the children.
Butman also told the onlookers that lighting one match or one candle can take away the darkness. Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness.
More than 2,000 years ago, a small band of Jewish warriors, Judah and the Maccabees, fought against Syrian-Greeks for their religious freedom. Against all odds, Judah and the Maccabees defeated one of the mightiest armies at that time and drove the Greeks from the land and reclaimed their Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
When they were ready to rededicate the temple by lighting the Temple's menorah, they found only enough oil for one day. But the small amount of oil burned for eight days, long enough for the temple to be rededicated and a new supply of oil to be ready.
Among the onlookers were Lydia Hassan and her son Jeffrey, a student at Cornell University. Butman greeted Jeffrey, who, he said, he remembered as a very young boy.
"We do this every year," Jeffrey said. "It's a tradition."
His mother said it was fortunate that this year Hanukkah fell during the Christmas break so her son could attend.
"We've been coming here since he was little," Lydia Hassan said. "We're lucky he's home in time. We're lucky this year."
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