NORWALK, Conn. – Jewish songs, dancing and prayer highlighted a celebration of the third night of Hanukkah as Norwalk leaders lit an 18-foot menorah at Stew Leonard’s Monday.
Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht of Beth Israel of Westport and Norwalk led the ceremony, which is now in its 20th year at the grocery store. It was co-sponsored by the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life. Prior to the lighting Hecht cheerfully greeted those in attendance and handed out chocolate coins and dreidels to the children.
“Hanukkah is a time to illuminate the pervading darkness,” he said. “This event publicizes the miracle of religious freedom, which is part of the essence of the United States. It’s important to cultivate diversity, and we reflect our diversity with light, unity and respect for the human spirit.”
Also in attendance were Mayor Richard Moccia, State Rep. Gail Lavielle, Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik, former Police Chief Harry Rilling and Stew Leonard Jr. Hecht presented Moccia and the City of Norwalk with a menorah, which will be displayed in the atrium at City Hall, and gave a dreidel to Kulhawik.
“It’s a wonderful time of the year and Stew Leonard is so gracious because they light a Christmas tree and then they light a menorah to show we’re all together in the spirit of peace,” Moccia said.
He also asked everybody to remember the men and women in the military serving overseas.
“Because of them we are here and able to exercise one of the most precious freedoms we have, the freedom of religion,” he said.
The officials then lit the candle on a smaller menorah while Hecht led everybody in prayer. Afterward people joined hands and danced in circles while musicians played songs such as “The Dreidel Song” and “Rock of Ages” to celebrate the holiday, which will continue until Saturday.