ELMSFORD, N.Y. — No Hanukkah would be complete without dreidels spinning, hands clapping and the smell of latkes wafting through the room — and Elmsford's Jewish community didn't fall short.
With two days of Hanukkah left, community members gathered for the seventh annual menorah lighting ceremony at the Senior Community Center on Thursday evening. Rabbi Velvl Butman, who led the ceremony, said it was no coincidence that the symbol for infinity is the number eight — the same number of days candles burned on the temple's menorah in Jerusalem centuries ago.
"Oil symbolizes the highest of man's strengths despite efforts trying to suppress him," Butman said. "We do believe in the infinite potential of reaching great heights."
And spirits reached great heights at the ceremony as well, as people played with dreidels and danced along to the music of the Westchester Klezmer band on stage. Marla Peers, who has watched the event grow since she founded it seven years ago, worked tirelessly over the past few days to make 400 latkes.
"I'm going on 30 minutes of sleep," Peers laughed, adding that she went through about 60 pounds of potatoes. "But we don't get to be together very much. This joyousness, I think, is important.
Peers was approached seven years ago by Mayor Robert Williams, who said he wanted to hold a village ceremony for Hanukkah. To accompany the ceremony and match the Christmas tree just down the road, the village also bought a giant menorah that now stands outside the Senior Community Center, 10 N. Stone Ave.
Elmsford resident Sandra Ochoa said she has attended the event since its start and passed the tradition along to her two children. She loves celebrating the holiday with her fellow Jewish community.
"It's that sharing and that giving moment where you always have to think about the other," Ochoa said.
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