Miracle on Beach 116th Street

 Miracle on Beach 116th Street

By Katie McFadden

A bigger crowd than usual turned out this year for the Beach 116th menorah lighting, which was held on, for the first time in recent memory, the first night of Hanukkah.

On Thursday, December 7, roughly 150 neighbors came out to Beach 116th and Rockaway Beach Blvd. for the annual menorah lighting. The event, made possible by Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s office, the Rockaway Civic Association, Temple Beth El, West End Temple and Mazzone Hardware, included jelly donuts from Dunkin’, hot chocolate from Bagel Barista Station, chocolate gelt from Madelaine Chocolate and blue light tubes for all to enjoy.

Kevin Macklin of Mazzone Hardware and Paul King of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association made sure the menorah was in proper working order and installed in its place on Beach 116th in time for the annual lighting. The menorah is dedicated to the late Noni Signoretti of Brown’s Hardware and the late District Leader Lew Simon.

Councilwoman Joann Ariola began the ceremony explaining how important this year’s menorah lighting is. “We always want to celebrate our religious cultures and holidays, but this menorah lighting is even more important this year, especially with what’s happening in Israel and what happened on October 7 and what is now happening throughout our communities and in our schools. So, we light this menorah, and we ask that God grant us peace and joy throughout the holiday season and into the future.”

Rabbi Matt Carl of Temple Beth El acknowledged this year’s lighting celebration being held on the first night, when in past years, it has been celebrated a few days into Hanukkah on Beach 116th. “There’s a weird quirk about the first night of Hanukkah. The miracle of Hanukkah, we’re told, is that there was enough oil to last one day, and the oil lasted eight days. So, what’s so miraculous on the first night? There’s nothing unusual or particularly exciting about one day’s worth of oil lasting one day,” Rabbi Carl said. “What we’re celebrating is potential. What we’re celebrating is the next seven nights. So, it is wonderful to be here with all of you with this huge crowd we have here in Rockaway to celebrate specifically on the first night because we talk so often about current events and the past and about all of the sadness and terror and fears that we’ve had this year and at other times and I hope this year, instead, we can focus on the miraculous potential for our future.”

Rabbi Rebecca Epstein of West End Temple spoke about celebrating life’s daily miracles. “It’s been a really hard time in the Jewish community, but this holiday comes to remind us that we have the power to bring light into the world and it reminds us that miracles can happen,” Rabbi Epstein said, continuing to speak of the two miracles of Hanukkah. “We bless God for the miracle that happened before, in past times, and we bless God for all the miracles that happened in these times, that we can bring about all of the daily miracles that we have all around us from being able to get up in the morning to being able to spend time with family and friends to appreciating nature, to appreciating community. All of those daily miracles are just as important as the many miracles that happened to our ancestors in the past, so, as we light these Hanukkah candles tonight, being so proud to be a part of the Jewish community here on Beach 116th Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd., may we be blessed and inspired so that we can bring light into the world, and we can make miracles happen. So, Happy Hanukkah and thank you to everyone that organized this!”

With that, Rabbi Epstein and her children and Rabbi Carl lit the first candle on the menorah, as Cantor Jeffrey Wolk broke out into song, with everyone joining in to celebrate the miracle of Hannukah, potential and life’s daily miracles.

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