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On Monday night, December 19, 2022, Reading held its first ever Menorah lighting. After much ado about whether it was an event that should happen, I am so happy to say that I thought it was a beautiful night.
I was there to help serve latkes and donuts while others offered token gifts of dreidels, light-up menorah necklaces, and pamphlets explaining the holiday.
There were speakers and songs and joyful neighbors milling around, greeting each other and huddling together against the chill.
A lovely Christmas tree stood beside the large menorah, full of lights and decorations, and when the second light of Chanukah was lit, the whole crowd cheered and clapped.
People wished me a Happy Chanukah and said Shalom-a word filled with meaning-peace; abundant love. I am not Jewish, but it was so sweet to be wished these thoughts.
At the end, I walked a senior gentleman to the folk dancing event held at the Congregational Church. He was from Woburn, and I recognized him as he works at Target there. He told me he had heard about the dancing from a Rabbi where he went to dance. I know his name now, so I will greet him as a friend when I see him at Target.
A community came together that night. There were very young children and men with gray beards. There were helpers and friends. I saw people I knew and some I didn’t as we stood among the festive, colorful trees on the common.
Thank you to all the people who worked to make this night happen. I will carry that joy with me through the holiday season and be forever grateful for its beauty.
I say to all who read this, “Shalom.”