In an appeal for tolerance and harmony, Newark’s new mayor, Luis Quintana, told celebrants at the city’s annual Hanukka ceremony that he personally makes a strong connection between the lights of the menora and the memorial candles he lit at concentration camps in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.
Quintana said he toured the camps when he studied the Holocaust as a student at Seton Hall University in South Orange.
“My eyes have seen injustice,” he said.
The Puerto Rican-born City Council president was selected to fill the unexpired term of Cory Booker on Nov. 13 following the former mayor’s election to the U.S. Senate. Quintana, the first Latino to become Newark’s chief executive, has said he will decline to declare his candidacy when his term ends on July 1, 2014.
“We know about injustice, and that is a pity. But we don’t know about each other,” he said. “Diversity is our strength. The spirit of this holiday month we have to celebrate together with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and we have to send a message that we are all together and that we must respect each other on every ground at every level.
“What will make America and the world strong is not the speeches we make but those who want to stand and respect us all.”
Referring to the small gold menora presented to him by Rabbi Levi Block of Newark’s Chabad Torah Center, Quintana said, “This award means a symbol of light…. The light doesn’t mean anything if we don’t light each other.”
Quintana saluted Adam Zipkin, who is leaving as Newark’s deputy mayor of economic and housing development. On Dec. 11, Zipkin, the highest-ranking Jewish member of Booker’s mayoral administration, will become a a staff aide to the new senator in Washington, DC.
Following the ceremony in the City Hall rotunda, Michael Betesh, whose family-owned Betesh Group has made substantial real estate investments in Newark, was given the honor of lighting the menora on the front lawn of City Hall.