ELMSFORD, N.Y. The Klezmer band floated traditional tunes into the air as residents clapped their hands to the beat, An elder couple and a pair of teenagers sat at tables, challenging each other to dreidel-spinning contests.
On Tuesday night, members of the Elmsford community gathered at the Senior Community Center for the sixth annual menorah lighting ceremony. In a room of roughly 50 residents, Rabbi Velvl Butman, alongside Mayor Robert Williams, lit the menorah candle in honor of Hanukkah. The reason that Hanukkah is celebrated, Butman said, is because those of the Jewish faith were not allowed to practice their religion and were tarnished and attacked for doing so.
"Those beautiful lights symbolize that even when it gets dark in life and dark outside and perhaps cold and difficult, you can always warm by the light of the menorah," said Butman. "By definition, darkness is a coward. It cannot face the power of light. When you introduce goodness and kindness and a smile and happiness to any human being's life, you're going to have an impact."
Butman equated a human being to a candle, each with three ingredients: A candle has wax and a wick, but without fire, it is nothing. A human has a body and a soul, but without goodness, he or she is nothing.
"Every child deserves a chance, but we have to go out of our way to make sure that every candle is truly lit," he said.
Marla Peers, an Elmsford resident whose idea it was to start a menorah ceremony six years ago, spent the past two days in the kitchen with more than 60 pounds of potatoes. After two smoke alarms, she emerged with 500 latkes to share with attendees.
"The story of Hanukkah is the story of survival and of triumph over those who would tell us that we couldn't be who we were," said Peers. "Hanukkah is a celebration of life. It's our celebration of life. We get together with family. Even forgetting about the religious part of it, it's a time for families to get together and celebrate who we are."
The menorah can be seen on North Stone Avenue across from the village square's CVS.
"It's for public display," Peers said. "It's for everyone to see the symbol of the miracle."
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