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Beth Tfiloh's menorah targets the carpool set Ceremony at rush hour called 'the best way for everyone to see' it


You have your drive-through fast food, your drive-in movies and your drive-up windows at your local bank.

Now a Baltimore synagogue and day school is offering a menorah lighting for the carpool set.

Beth Tfiloh Congregation and Community School held its first "Carpool Candle-lighting Ceremony" yesterday as it dedicated a 9-foot-tall menorah, next to the school's parking lot off Old Court Road in Pikesville, on the second evening of Hanukkah.

The eight days of Hanukkah celebrate the victory of a band of Jewish fighters, the Maccabees, who in 165 B.C. recaptured the Temple in Jerusalem from Syrian-Greek invaders.

When the Maccabees re-entered the Temple, they found enough oil to light the great menorah for only one day. But the menorah continued to burn for the eight days needed to prepare more ritually permitted oil.

Under Jewish law, the menorah that is lighted in a family home should be placed near a window so that members of the family can follow the teaching of the great rabbis "to publicize the miracle."

And participating in the lighting of the menorah fulfills a mitzvah, or spiritual commandment.

Which brings us to the Carpool Candle-lighting Ceremony.

"The more people who see it, the better," said Rabbi Michael Reches, assistant principal of Beth Tfiloh Community School. "We felt the best way for everyone to see the menorah is to light it at carpool time. That will enable as many students and their parents as possible to witness this ceremony and thereby fulfill the obligation under Jewish law to publicly display the lighting of the menorah."

The menorah, made of aluminum in an angular, modern design, was donated by Bess Fishman, one of the oldest members of Beth Tfiloh Congregation, in gratitude for her upcoming 90th birthday because, she said, "I really wanted to do something permanent."

Fishman, a Beth Tfiloh member for more than 57 years, is the first of four generations of her family with ties to the synagogue.

Her granddaughter, Jenny Rotner, 16, was hoisted in a cherry picker to light the menorah candles, which will be replaced today with more practical electric lights.

Fishman, addressing Beth Tfiloh students from the sixth to the 12th grades who gathered for the lighting ceremony, recalled joining the synagogue in 1941. Three years later, her youngest son, David, enrolled in the synagogue day school's first first-grade class.

She served on the board of directors for 50 years and wrote the synagogue's history for its 60th anniversary in 1971.

"I have always called Beth Tfiloh my anchor," Fishman said. "It was always here in good times and bad. And when you've lived as long as I have, you'll have plenty of both."

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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