Hundreds Gather at the Annual Menorah Lighting Held at the Staten Island Mall - The Jewish Voice
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Hundreds Gather at the Annual Menorah Lighting Held at the Staten Island Mall

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Hundreds Gather at the Annual Menorah Lighting Held at the Staten Island Mall
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On December 18, 2022, the beginning of Chanukah and the lighting of the first candle of the Menorah was marked at the Staten Island Mall located in the New Springville section of Staten Island with the grand lighting of the Menorah. The lighting of the Menorah was preceded with an afternoon of family fun and entertainment as parents and grandparents watched their children and grandchildren at play, enjoying Chanukah arts and grafts, playing with the dreidel and munching on the traditional Chanukah treats. Hot Latkes, donuts, popcorn and soda was the order of the day.

This grand event was organized for the 42nd time by the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO) which has partnered with Staten Island Chabad to bring together the most elegant public Chanukah celebration to the borough. The event truly was true to the theme of, “Lighting Up Staten Island.” COJO and Chabad thanked Mr. James Easily, General Manager of the Staten Island Mall for so graciously permitting COJO and Chabad to conduct the Menorah lighting at the Mall.

“After experiencing a rise and uptick in hate crimes and anti-Semitism we as a community are utilizing the light of the Menorah as a means in fighting anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry” remarked Mendy Mirocznik, president, COJO.

Mirocznik, continued and added, “The Chanukah spirit encourages Jews to take heart from the Chanukah menorah and stand proud as a Jew in the face of anti-Semitic oppression. The rising trend of anti-Semitism has rightly caused alarm among many Jews. We live in a time in which someone may be attacked on the street simply for looking like a Jew. Some might react by hiding their Jewish identity. This reasonable response will only make things worse. We must confront antisemitism both directly and indirectly.

As we celebrate Chanukah this week, we remember the ancient Hellenists who persecuted proud Jews and attempted to legislate the Jewish religion out of existence. The Maccabees rose up to fight against the persecution. They would not be forced into hiding, ashamed of their Jewishness. Instead, they wore their Judaism proudly and fought against their oppressors.

Today the Jewish community around the world is again experiencing an assault on our religion and our identity as Jews. Not only have anti-Semitic attacks risen in the past few years, anti-Semitic rhetoric is now loudly voiced by some cultural icons. The same canards that have been voiced by anti-Jewish agitators throughout the ages are now regularly discussed in the mainstream and social media. These are scary times. The solution is to make a public stand against hate and strengthening our Jewish identity at the same time and to appreciate the blessings of what it means to be a Jewish American who has the right to practice or religion in freedom. To the end I thank Rabbi Moshe Katzman from Chabad of Staten Island for once again organizing, developing and implementing a grand celebration of Jewish pride. I firmly feel that today’s positive actions will have a positive effect on reaffirming our faith and will give us the strength to persevere and to defeat hate.”

Assemblyman Michael Cusick was honored with lighting the Shames candle and while he was lighting the candle he was surrounded by John Rinaudo, representing Congress Member Nicole Malliotaki, Francesca Gallelli, representing District Attorney Michael McMahon together with Ari Weiss, COJO Security Chairman and Coordinator Staten Island Shomrim and with Officer Mike Frasca, Officer Tom Frasca, Officer Cynthia Janniere and Officer James Taylor.

Mirocznik, concluded by thanking Empire BlueCross BlueShield for their generous sponsorship and in particular Carina Vizhnay, Community Relations Representative for attending and for the wonderful goodies’ bags fill with dreidels and Chanukah treats.


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