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Menorahcade becoming East Hampton tradition

To celebrate Hanukkah, cars decorated with lighted menorahs,

To celebrate Hanukkah, cars decorated with lighted menorahs, parade from Chabad Lubavitch of the Hamptons in East Hampton to Herrick Park during an annual celebration, known as Menorahcade. (Nov. 30, 2013) Credit: Brittany Wait

Shaun Jacobson’s car -- with a plastic menorah on its roof -- lit up East Hampton’s Main Street  Saturday night while in line with 24 other vehicles, also equipped with menorahs, during Chabad Lubavitch of the Hamptons’  Menorahcade.

In celebrating eight days of Hanukkah, the procession left from Woods Lane and ended at Herrick Park in East Hampton.

Jacobson, 35, and his wife Rachel, 30, brought their 2-year-old twin boys to the Hanukkah event. “We want Judaism to be a part of their lives early on,” said Shaun Jacobson, of Syosset. “We want them to know that it’s embraced by the community. Events like these strengthen our Jewish identity in today’s world.”

Once at the park, nearly 100 people gathered around a 5-foot menorah as Rabbi Leibel Baumgarten, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of the Hamptons, lit it while praying. He then ushered everyone across the street for a party at East Hampton Middle School with  festive music, sweet-potato latkes, sweets and children’s games.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BCE.

“This event helps people feel the spirit of the holiday and the Menorahcade is to get people’s attention,” said Baumgarten, of East Hampton. “You have to do something to get people excited about the holiday and show that we’re welcomed by the community.”

Nibbling on a potato latke, Arline Altman chatted with her neighbors inside the school, among children playing with dreidels and festive music playing in the background.

“I found the Menorahcade exciting to see. It was different,” said Altman, 80, of East Hampton. “Tonight, it felt good to join in with my neighbors in celebrating Judaism.”

Celebrating Hanukkah is so important to Altman that she even uses  technology to celebrate her faith with her grown children and grandchildren who live across the country.

“We light a candle each night and sing and pray all on FaceTime,” she said. “It’s important to keep up tradition with your family even if they’re far away from you. But even with my family so far away, it’s nice they have this tonight. It’s great to be here.”

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