“The show must go on,” which was the case at the 6th annual “Chanukah on the Park” event at Yellowstone Park on Sunday of Chanukah, organized by Rabbi Mendy and Chaya Hecht of Chabad of Forest Hills North
by Michael Perlman – Forest Hill Times
“The show must go on,” which was the case at the 6th annual “Chanukah on the Park” event at Yellowstone Park in Forest Hills on Sunday.
The popular event is organized by Rabbi Mendy and Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht of Chabad of Forest Hills North (CFHN), but to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, this year guests were required to tune in to a virtual broadcast of Rabbi Hecht lighting an 18-foot Chanukah menorah.
Thousands of people also enjoyed live music, as well as inspirational talks from guest speakers.
The event also served as a tribute to the previous five celebrations, which featured DJ Jordan, dancing with dreidel mascots and Chanukah clowns, lighting the menorah from an FDNY cherry picker, a countdown to the “Grand Chanukah Gelt Drop” at 30 feet, and a magic show and ventriloquist.
Chanukah celebrates the miracle of how a tiny cruse of oil, fit for a single-day supply, lasted for eight days. In also marks the Jewish victory over a tyrant king and a temple’s rededication in Jerusalem.
“People are yearning more than ever to come together, celebrate each holiday, and fulfill them the right way,” Rabbi Hecht said.
Chanukah has a special connection with education. The Greeks once issued decrees against Jewish education.
“On Chanukah, we celebrate our freedom to provide children with a proper Jewish education,” noted Rabbi Hecht. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe often stressed the unique connection between Chanukah and education. It is a special time that inspired children to connect to their heritage, as can be seen by many customs.”
It is also a great time for continued spiritual growth. Rabbi Mendy said,
“As we learn from lighting the Chanukah candles, the way to light darkness is not by maintaining the same amount of light we had in the past, but to always increase the light,” the rabbi explained. “Especially now in COVID, let’s take this message of rededication and commitment of Torah and mitzvot (good deeds) to the next generation to heart. Let’s spread the light of goodness and kindness, and make this world a better place.”
At Sunday’s virtual event, Rabbi Hecht recited the Chanukah blessings and lit the 18-foot menorah after being hoisted up in a lift.
Captain Joe Cappelmann, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, was among the guest speakers.
“Over the last ten months I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving this community,” he said. “I’d like to thank the members of Chabad of Forest Hills North for all the support they have provided us during this year.”
8th Day, an American Hasidic pop rock band with klezmer, reggae, jazz, and blues influences, performed. It features brothers Shmuel and Bentzi Marcus, along with Jason Rosenquist, Philip Bynoe, and Leo Chelyapovs.
“Chanukah reminds us that each one of us is a miracle of light,” Shmuel said.
Nissim Black, an American Israeli rapper who converted to Orthodox Judaism, also performed.
“Chanukah really represents being in the darkest and most remote places and then feeling connected to the wonderful mandate to light the menorah out and in the open in front of everyone,” he said. “We are showing the light and the miracle, as well as great wonders that God has done for the Jewish people in front of the entire world.”
The program also featured food writer and blogger Chanie Apfelbaum and pop artist Rabbi Yitzchok Moully, Rabbi and lecturer YY Jacobson, former Israeli professional basketball player Tamir Goodman, CKids representative Avivah Jablon and Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer.
“Since Chanukah is a celebration of Jewish identity, it is the most public of holidays,” Dermer said. “On Chanukah, we must light the menorah in our place that our neighbors can see. We also celebrate Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, and it is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates an event that took place in the land of Israel.”