Chabad of Brunswick will light a 9-foot, public Hanukkah menorah at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Brunswick Town Mall. The community will be joined on the third night of the eight-day Festival of Lights by Maine State Rep. and Brunswick Town Councilman Dan Ankeles and Town of Brunswick Chief of Police Scott Stewart as well as representatives from Sen. Angus King’s and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s offices.

The public Hanukkah celebration is being heralded as a response to the rise in antisemitic rhetoric online and elsewhere, Chabad of Brunswick stated in a prepared release.

“Our response to hatred of any kind must never be to cower or hide our faith,” said Rabbi Shmuly Lefkowitz, who directs Chabad of Brunswick with his wife Draizy. “The story of Hanukkah is the tremendous power of light to overcome darkness. We can have no better response to negativity we encounter than to gather together in even greater numbers and celebrate the light of the menorah in public.”

This year’s public menorah lighting carries added significance as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the Year of Hakhel, or “Gathering,” a once-in-seven-years Jewish tradition. The marking of this special occasion is part of the reason Chabad of Brunswick is offering and expecting record crowds at the menorah-lighting this year.

“Unity is what makes a strong community,” Lefkowitz said. “Hakhel is a time for us to tune in to this, because together we can accomplish great things. There is no greater display of the literal light it is in our power to bring into the world than to gather together and light the menorah. This is what the world needs.”

The celebratory event will feature a chocolate gelt drop from the Brunswick Fire Department, live Hanukkah music by the Maine Meshagoyim, LED dreidel stilt walker and balloon twister, and latkes and doughnuts. Complimentary Hanukkah menorahs and candles will be distributed as well for participants to light at home.

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