Chabad of Western Monmouth County hit the road this year in its campaign to increase Hanukka awareness.
In addition to its trademark lighting of large hanukkiot in public spaces, the hasidic outreach center launched two new endeavors to “spread the light.”
On the fourth night of the holiday, Dec. 11, 25 cars with lighted electric hanukkiot atop their roofs traveled convoy-style on Route 9 South from Chabad WMC’s headquarters in Manalapan to the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County in Freehold.
The cars were seen by hundreds of commuters and drew honks and high-fives from passing motorists. Rabbi Shmuly Volovik, director of Chabad’s teen programming and its school, coordinated the event.
The other Chabad Hanukka road show was on foot.
A brigade of some 100 volunteers and students from local and Brooklyn yeshivas fanned out in teams to houses and businesses carrying all that was needed to light the Hanukka candles.
“Our goal was to distribute a minimum of 770 menora kits,” said Rabbi Levi Wolosow, Chabad’s outreach coordinator. A reference to the Brooklyn address of Chabad headquarters, 770 is the numerical equivalent for the Hebrew word “poratzta,” meaning “you shall spread forth.”
They hoped to meet the goal on the sixth night.
Three yeshiva students visited the Morganville home of Rimma and Anatoly Rabkin, who attend Chabad WMC house for study and worship. The two were hosting a holiday gathering for friends when the students arrived.
For Rimma, who came from Russia 20 years ago, the students’ visit offered a stark contrast to the memories of her youth. “While we were living in Russia,” she told NJJN, “we experienced anti-Semitism every day.”
The students’ visit, she said, gave everyone a “warm feeling of acceptance.” In fact, she said, one of her friends who had been at her house called the next day and told her that with the materials in the Hanukka kit she received, she had made her own holiday celebration, and was “happy to give dreidels to all of the children.”
Another team of yeshiva student emissaries, all from Brooklyn, visited an elderly woman living alone. Named Henshe, the woman told the visitors — Nochum Greenwald, 23, and Shmuely Baumgarten and Shmuely Gurevitz, both 15 — that her husband, a Holocaust survivor who passed away in 1989, had always fulfilled the mitzvot. She invited the yeshiva students in and they talked to her about the significance of Hanukka. They sang songs and lit the candles — she for the first time in 23 years.
“She was very moved,” said Greenwald. “One of the greatest things the Lubavitcher rebbe taught us was to share everything…. That’s what the Hanukka menora teaches us: We increase the light each night, the same way we should increase goodness and kindness every day, spreading Torah and mitzvos.”