Baltimore County

Menorah lighting in Bel Air celebrates start of Hanukkah

For the second year, Harford County residents came out to Shamrock Park in Bel Air to mark the first night of Hanukkah, an eight-day Jewish holiday, with a public menorah lighting.

More than 100 people filled the park at sundown Tuesday for the festive event, which was organized by Rabbi Kushi Schusterman, of Chabad Jewish Center of Harford County.

Harford County Executive David Craig mounted a stepladder to light the "shamash," or middle candle used to light the other menorah candles during Hanukkah.

"Harford County has a wonderful and diverse group of people, and it's great to see such a large group of people celebrating this," Craig told the crowd.

Deborah Temple, president of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace, then lit the first candle.

"This is just wonderful. It's great to see so much Jewish unity in the community, and we are truly blessed," Temple said following the ceremony.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish people filled the park pavilion to enjoy traditional Hanukkah foods like jelly doughnuts and potato pancakes, as music played.

Eric and Carrie Shapiro, of Forest Hill, said they were at the event for the first time.

"I think it's important," Carrie Shapiro said, explaining it is nice to appreciate other holidays. "Everybody's talking about Christmas."

Eric Shapiro said Schusterman is trying to get all the Jewish people out of their homes so they can see they are not alone.

"It's kind of an empowering thing to know that you are part of a group and not by yourself," he said.

Christa Clarke was a neighbor of the Shapiros and came with her son, James, 4, to the event.

"We celebrate Christmas and my neighbors are Jewish," she explained. "My son was interested to see what a menorah lighting is. I think it's wonderful."

Marcia Garnice, of Abingdon, was out with her daughter and granddaughter, and said she belongs to Temple Adas Shalom.

"It's nice to see the community get together," Garnice said. "I am glad it's happening. It's always Christmas tree lighting, so with Hanukkah, it's nice to see [the menorah lighting] happening."

Schusterman said after the first night of Hanukkah, the menorah will be moved from the park to Main Street, where Chabad Jewish Center is located, for better visibility.

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