YONKERS, N.Y. Cantor Chanin Becker of Scarsdale Synagogue-Temples Tremont and Emanu-El set the mood and the tempo Wednesday night as she ran through the Hanukkah songbook outside Stew Leonard's Yonkers store. From "Oh Hanukkah" to "My Dreidel" to "Light One Candle" and "I Am a Latke," Becker led 50-plus people through a celebration leading to the 12th annual lighting of Stew Leonard's 21-foot menorah by Scarsdale Rabbi Stephen A. Klein.
Dena Rosario of Yonkers said she has been attending the ceremony for several years. "It's beautiful. It's very nice. None of the other places do it.
Klein said he has been leading the celebration since the two reform temples Scarsdale's Tremont and Yonkers's Emanu-El, merged four years ago. Temple Emanu-El conducted the ceremony for its first eight years.
"It's important during this time of so many different holidays that we remember the meaning of Hanukkah, when darkness gave way to light and the freedom of the Jewish community. It's symbolic of freedom for all people."
More than 2,000 years ago, a small band of Jewish warriors, Judah and the Maccabees, fought against Syrian-Greeks for their religious freedom. Against all odds, Judah and the Maccabees defeated one of the mightiest armies at that time and drove the Greeks from the land and reclaimed their Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
When they were ready to rededicate the temple by lighting the Temple's menorah, they found only enough oil for one day. But the small amount of oil burned for eight days, long enough for the temple to be rededicated and a new supply of oil to be ready.
Stew Leonard's Store President Fred Salvino took part in the singing and said he had been concerned about the weather, which, earlier in the day, had been rainy. But the rain cleared prior to the ceremony. "This was actually one of the warmer ceremonies," he said. "I'm so happy to be able to celebrate this. It's a holiday for so many people. We're just happy to be a part of this. It's important to us to be a big part of the community."
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