9 Foot Menorah lights up the Village of Pawling

ecember 2014


For the first time in the history of Pawling, a public Menorah lighting took place in the Village on Sunday, December 21, marking 40 years since the start of public Menorah lightings in the United States. Coordinated by Fishkill based rabbi, Zalman Sandhaus of Pardess Center for Jewish Life, the Menorah lighting was met with much excitement by the residents of Pawling and passersby. With minimal Jewish activity and celebration in Pawling, the Menorah was a breath of fresh air for the Jewish participants.


“We’re making history,” announced Rabbi Sandhaus as the small, but joyful crowd gathered. Village Mayor Robert Liffland, who was honored with lighting the center candle, dedicated the event to the memory of his Jewish father. In a touching address to the crowd Liffland relayed, “My father’s family was persecuted in Russia for their religion, and here we are in a place of religious freedom, lighting a Menorah in Pawling for the first time.”

In fact, the Menorah itself is a symbol of religious freedom, as it represents the victory of a small group of Jewish fighters over the mighty Assyrian Greeks who reigned over ancient Israel and forbade Jewish practice. “After the Jews won the war,” the Rabbi recounted, “they rededicated the Holy Temple, which had been vandalized by the Greeks, and prepared to light the Menorah—a candelabra that was lit daily in the Temple. However, they only had enough oil for one day’s lighting and the Menorah required special oil that took eight days to produce. Miraculously, the oil that was intended to burn for one day lasted the full eight days until new oil was ready.” Today, the holiday of Chanukah, which is celebrated with lighting a Menorah, commemorates the victory of good over evil and stands as a symbol of religious freedom.