Menorah lighting held in Railroad Plaza to celebrate Hanukkah
After the illumination of two lights on the menorah above the stage at Railroad Plaza in Lansdale Saturday night, Alan Gold gave a sermon explaining the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah.
Call it the Jewish version of George Carlin’s Baseball vs. Football comedic routine.
Christmas is Christianity’s major holiday, according to Gold, a New Britain resident.
He called Hanukkah a minor one in the Jewish religion with the same themes as all its holidays.
“They tried to kill us,” said Gold. “We survived. So let’s eat.”
Christmas is one day, while Hanukkah lasts eight.
“There’s only one way to spell Christmas,” he said. “No one’s quite sure how to spell Hanukkah, whether it’s with a C-H or with two Ks”
On Christmas, Christians celebrate by baking cookies and going to church, according to Gold.
He said Jews go to the movies and eat Chinese food.
The annual Menorah Lighting event — organized by Gold and Ellen PriceMaloy, which included a performance by the Horns of Hanukkah, marks the beginning of the Hanukkah celebration.
A minor holiday on the Jewish calendar falling on the 25th day of Kislev, Hanukkah commemorates an ancient miracle in Hebrew lore.
In 165 B. C., the Jewish people, weary of Syrian oppression, revolted. When the temple was rededicated, there was only one- night’s olive oil for the menorah. Legend holds that the oil burned for eight days.
When the electric menorah did come on, only two lights were lit — the central candle, the shamash, and the rightmost candle of the menorah. That’s because it was RNOy WKH fiRSW NLJKW RI WKH eight-day Jewish festival of lights.
The custom is that each night, one additional candle is lit from right to left, which is the same way Hebrew text is read.
Gold told the crowd that the Jewish holiday, which is not referenced in the Bible, has evolved over the yHDRS IRR WKH EHNHfiW RI -Hwish children as a rival to the overwhelming popularity of Christmas.
According to Gold, the local ceremony began several years ago when former Lansdale Mayor Mike DiNunzio asked Dalck Feith — a concentration camp survivor who has since died — to donate $50,000 for the nine-branched candelabrum and continuing maintenance.
Gold said Hanukkah means dedication in Hebrew, from when the Macabbee family beat the Syrian/Greek oppressors and returned to the destroyed temple to re-dedicate the holy place.
“It’s a fun and joyful time” said Price-Maloy, a Montgomery Township resident who played her guitar and led a sing-along before an approximate audience of 50 people. “I do it to have a good time with it.”
Many families in the North Penn region have Jewish roots, according to Gold, who, with the help of members of the North Penn B’nai B’rith, has organized the ceremony the past 17 years.
However, he said that only a fraction have any connection to local synagogues.
Ellen Price Malloy, left, sings a song with her grandson, Justin Chinofsky, and Alan Gold, right, at the annual lighting of the menorah for the first night of Hanukkah at Railroad Plaza in Lansdale Saturday.