Photos by AUGUSTO F. MENEZES/Staff photographer
Freida Posnock of Monroe reads a list of names of fallen New Jersey soldiers during a memorial service and menorah lighting at the Chabad Jewish Center in Monroe. Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky stands at right.
Monroe Councilman Irwin Nalitt places the first lit candle upon a giant menorah during the memorial service at the Chabad Jewish Center on Gravel Hill Road in Monroe.
Present honored with past

Menorah lighting somber, joyous

Home News Tribune Online 12/27/05
[email protected]

MONROE: The Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe's fourth annual menorah lighting was both a joyous and somber occasion.

Celebrants acknowledged the 49 New Jersey service members killed in Iraq while honoring centuries' old Jewish tradition yesterday.

"We're not making a political statement; it's just our way of making sure people don't forget them," said Monroe resident Leonard Posnock, 69.

It was the Chabad center's fourth annual ceremony celebrating Hanukkah, an eight-day holiday marking the end of Greek rule over a temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. But Posnock said the Chabad wanted also to pay respect to those soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq. "Hanukkah honors the Jews who overcame strife for religious freedom. The soldiers lost were fighting for freedom, too."

Posnock wore a yellow glow stick around his neck. It was
one of 49 given out in tribute of each New Jersey soldier lost.

Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky, director of Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe, said Hanukkah and the war in Iraq held a very similar message.

"The goal is to make sure justice will prevail," he said. "Let us hope the battle will bring victory of . . . good over evil."

Township resident John Shivone, 44, played taps on his bugle after Chabad members read the names of the 49 service members lost. A corrections officer at a New York prison by profession, Shivone runs "Bugles Across America of New York and New Jersey" in his spare time.

"There are 2,000 veterans losing their lives every single day in this country," he said. "The military has only 500 active horn players so I volunteer for events because I don't believe any veteran should be buried to the sound of a boombox."

After a moment of silence, the "shamesh," or center light, of the Menorah was lit, as were two candles to mark the second night of Hanukkah.

Before the ceremony began, Monroe resident Mel Bacall, 71, filled out a card for a Hanukkah gift raffle while shaking off the cold.

"I'll fill out anything," he joked. Bacall said he and wife, Doris, 70, attend the menorah lighting every year.

"We like when they light the menorah to signify our holiday season," said Doris Bacall.

The Bacalls brought their granddaughters, Madison Bacall, 9, of Marlboro and Kylie Glazer, 12, of Hollywood, Fla. Bundled up in a thick coat, Glazer said she wasn't used to the cold, but so far, she was having fun celebrating the holidays in the Garden State. Yesterday, she got all of her Hanukkah gifts at once.

"I got an iPod, money, perfume, makeup," she said with a smile.

Madison said she was enjoying time off from school.

"I don't have to go back until January 2nd," she said.

After the presentation, Zaklikovsky invited all to eat jelly doughnuts, brought in from a Brooklyn, N.Y., bakery, and latkes - potato pancakes made with onions, matzah flour, eggs, salt and pepper.

"We eat foods made with oil, because in the Hanukkah miracle, oil for the sacred lamp was supposed to run out after one day. Instead it lasted for eight days," the rabbi said.

Meanwhile, Zaklikovsky's wife, Chanie, 31, kept busy inside the kitchen, making hot apple cider and hot chocolate.

"It's cold out there, so I thought everyone would enjoy it," she said.

Gina Vergel:

(732) 565-7228;

[email protected]