Last candle

Last candle

The last candle of Hanukka lightened the hearts of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Quakers alike at Congregation Agudath Israel in West Caldwell as women gathered to celebrate together and share the light from their lives.

For many, this was their first Hanukka celebration and a real opportunity to learn and embrace the culture and tradition of others.

Some attendees came early to work in the kitchen making latkes and organizing the food for the celebration. In spite of the cold, rainy weather the room was full of joy and light as women came from as far as Maplewood, Clifton, and Paterson.

As the room filled will cheerful voices and the party got started, Susan Werk, the education director of the congregation, shared the story of Hanukka and engaged the group in a discussion of the impact of a woman on the light in their life.

Lighting the hanukkia was a special experience especially for those who never celebrated Hanukka. Jill Kimelman, a music therapist who teaches music to children in many community Hebrew schools, was playing the guitar and singing Hanukka songs, and a soloist, 13-year-old Jesicca Moati, sang “Yemai HaHanukka” and inspired the group in dancing.

Barbara Wind from the MetroWest Holocaust Council shared the story of Hanna Senesh and other heroic stories of Holocaust survivors.

Noga Malniak, the MetroWest Israeli shliha, discussed how Hanukka is celebrated in Israel, and shared the things that are both the same and different between celebrations here and in Israel.

This meeting was organized by the interfaith women group SOUP (Sisters Organized for United Peace) with attendance from the ethical society members of NJ.

The end of the year celebration was sponsored by the Rosh Hodesh group of Congregation Agudath Israel of West Caldwell. Many thanks go to the generosity and giving spirit of Congregation Agudath Israel, especially to Susan Werk, and all other contributors to this enlightening program. The next meeting of the group will be Sunday, Jan. 29; women of all faiths are invited. For further information contact Maya Bloom at

Maya Bloom
Bead for Peace

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