Ocean County has its own monument to celebrate the Holiday of Lights, and it’s located right in Manchester Township.

Standing an impressive 9 feet tall, the Ocean County menorah was lit on Tuesday in celebration of the first night of Chanukah. Close to fifty people braved the gloomy rainy weather to attend the ceremony outside of Town Hall led by Rabbi Moesha Gourarie, Director of the Chabad Jewish Center.

Much like the Christmas tree is an iconic representation of the holiday, the menorah is the symbol of Chanukah. Rabbi Gourarie explains “we light it one candle each night. Celebrating and commemorating the miracle of the oil that took place in the temple two thousand years ago.”

Rabbi Moesha Gourarie addresses the crowd at the lighting of the Ocean County Menorah in Manchester Township

The jumbo menorah will be displayed alongside Christmas decorations facing Colonial Road and is viewable from Route 70. One of the light bulb candles will be lit each night for eight days in accordance with the practice, however Gourarie says each night’s ceremony will be more subdued than the more celebratory atmosphere of opening night. “We light it one candle each night. Celebrating and commemorating the miracle of the oil that took place in the temple two thousand years ago. “

The celebration of this two thousand year old holiday isn’t limited to lighting each lamp. The Chabad Jewish Center has organized several activities through the holidays which Gourarie hopes encourage people to come out and enjoy the richness and tradition of Judaism.

On Wednesday, at the Ocean County Mall the Chabad Jewish Center will have a Chanukah party complete with a candy cane menorah for the children. “Basically the kids come, we make a menorah sort of like this one but we fill it with jelly beans. Thousands and thousands of jelly beans. It gives the kids a feeling that they’re part of it. They’re building it, they’re making it. It’s not just observing, but they’re part of the holiday.” The party begins at four pm and will be located next to the Coach Store.

Another event for anyone in the Chanukah spirit will be a bowling party to celebrate the Sunday of Chanukah at the Brunswick Lanes at the corner of Routes 9 and 70 on Sunday the 25th at 3 pm.

Gourarie says these kinds of events are open to all, and are a great way to learn about and embrace Jewish culture and religion. “So we open what I like to call these fun events so people can enjoy the holidays, celebrate the holidays while not feel forced to go all the way so to speak.”

Chanukah celebrates a miracle in the holy temple 2,000 years ago when the Greeks invaded and one ration of oil managed to keep burning for eight days. Unlike Passover or Rosh Shoshanna, Chanukah is not a high holy day and instead was instituted by religious sages thousands of years ago. Gourarie says in a way it makes it a more accessible holiday. “On the one hand it doesn’t have as many rituals or rules do. But on the other hand it’s got eight days and it’s got so many beautiful messages that we want to celebrate it the best we can.”


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