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First Rockland Hanukkah parade

The Journal News

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More than 55 cars bedecked with large, handmade menorahs departed from Langeris Drive last night for the first-ever Hanukkah parade in Rockland County.

The procession was beginning a trip through Monsey, Viola and New Hempstead before heading south on the Palisades Interstate Parkway, and continuing on Route 303 in Orangeburg and Tappan. It ended at Closter Borough Hall in Closter, N.J., with a public menorah lighting.

“We’re going out to celebrate the idea of good prevailing over evil — of Hanukkah,” Levi Fuss, outreach coordinator at Yeshiva Menachem Mendel Lubavitch in Monsey, said. “We want to be able to invite everybody together in this happy celebration.”

The parade was a joint project of rabbinical students at the yeshiva and Congregation Tzemach Tzedek Lubavitch in Monsey.

The students spent the past few weeks building the wood menorahs, painting them and installing them on congregants’ cars, Fuss said. Most of the menorahs carried a sign, “Happy Chanukah! We want Moschiach (messiah) Now!” Other cars were wired with loudspeakers and played traditional Hanukkah music.

As the cars lined up in front of the synagogue on Lengeris Drive last night, the third night of Hanukkah, Yossi Lichy, a 16-year-old student at the yeshiva, smiled excitedly.

“This is awesome!” he said. “We’re spreading the miracle of Hanukkah. We’re showing people we’re not ashamed to be who we are. We’re proud to be Jews.”

Devorah Abramowitz, who sat in her minivan with her family waiting for the parade to start, said the menorah on her roof was illuminated by a cord that plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter socket. She was eager to begin the parade, which she said publicized the miracle of Hanukkah.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “My son put in a lot of hours to put together everything.”

Shmuly Kasowitz, a 17-year-old student at the yeshiva, said the parade was a display of Jewish pride and determination.

“We’re sticking to our own religion,” he said. “We’re staying Jewish, and we’re proud of it.”

The yeshiva’s president, Yisroel Schulman, said the Hanukkah parade was one of many educational projects the students completed in the spirit of community outreach and social action.

“The parade is to inform residents of Rockland of the holiday Hanukkah, and what the holiday represents,” he said. “How fortunate we are to live in a country which enables us to celebrate our respective religious holidays.”

The cars departed about 6 p.m., escorted by the Monsey Fire Department. Ramapo police temporarily halted traffic on Viola Road as the parade turned south on Viola Road from Langeris Drive. Several children stood at the corner, waving at the cars in the parade, and one waiting driver yelling how wonderful it was.

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