This article appeared in the Jan. 9, 2015 Allston-Brighton Tab.
School celebrates Hanukkah miracle
By Susie Davidson
You may have rubbed your eyes in disbelief if, on the evening of Dec. 23, you happened to see four stretch Hummer limousines, with brightly glowing Chanukah menorahs on top, winding their way throughout downtown Boston (followed closely by a parade of cars, many topped with their own own shining menorahs).
It wasn't a holiday mirage, so hopefully, you kept those hands warm in your pockets. The Hummers, filled to capacity with 80 ebullient children and adult chaperones, along with parents and other community members in their own cars, departed at 6 p.m. from Shaloh House Jewish Day School in Brighton for this annual, one might say, "Yiddishtide" procession.
This year, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined in on the fun-filled 8th and final night of Chanukah, greeting attendees at Shaloh House in Brighton at a 5 p.m. pre-parade formal community reception with cocktails and refreshments, and, at 5:45, addressing the Grand Menorah Lighting ceremony on its front lawn.
"Boston is a city with a big heart, dedicated to living as a united community," said Walsh. "The holidays - and wonderful events like this - show us what living in a community feels like."
"Mayor Walsh was chosen because he's a friend of the Jewish community and of the Russian-Jewish community in particular," said Shaloh House director Rabbi Dan Rodkin.
Students at Shaloh House hail from various countries, with many coming from Russian-Jewish families. Events like the parade clearly demonstrate the school's obvious mission to instill Jewish heritage in an enjoyable, positive and lasting manner. But Rodkin conveys that it's all part of the lesson.
"It's a special mitzvah to publicize the miracle of Chanukah," he said. "On this date, more than 2000 years ago, against all odds, a tiny Jewish army won a miraculous battle against the mighty Greeks, who ruled Israel and forbade the practice of Judaism there. When the Jews recaptured their Holy Temple, they found one small cruse of oil, enough to light the Temple's menorah for one day. But, miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, long enough to secure more oil from the olive groves in northern Israel."
Back to the fun, though. "Jewish kids from around Greater Boston got a Chanukah adventure they won't soon forget - a luxurious ride in a stretch-Hummer limousine through the streets of Boston," said Rodkin.
"I want to extend my warmest greetings to everyone [who will] gather at the Chanukah Parade and menorah lighting in Brighton," said Walsh in an earlier statement sent by his press office.
Rodkin explained that it is a longstanding Jewish tradition to invite public officials to public menorah lightings, to reflect and celebrate the religious freedom that Jews have enjoyed in this country.
"Many Jewish holidays celebrate miracles, but only on Chanukah is it a special commandment to publicize the miracle to the outside world," Rodkin said. "That's why we light our Menorahs in our front window, or in a doorway. We want to broadcast that Chanukah has a universal message: A little light dispels a lot of darkness."
Every year, the Hummer parade delights all viewers, but especially Jewish passersby. "Chanukah has the power to ignite the hidden candle of Jewish pride inside every Jew," said Rodkin. "When Jews see the parade, they flip! They dance in the street, they give us high-fives, and they are so excited." Everyone, he reports, whips out their smartphones and cameras (that means you, downtown Boston observer).
"Even though Chanukah also celebrates a military victory, we concentrate on the light."
Walsh also attended the Grand Chanukah Menorah lighting ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 4 p.m. at the Brewer's Fountain on the Boston Common, which featured a live band and Chanukah treats. Nightly Menorah Lightings followed.
Shaloh House is located at 29 Chestnut Hill Ave. in Brighton.