Port Washington comes together in menorah lighting

Local train station hosts community Chanukah event for residents



Residents flock to the live-sized menorah lighting located at the Port Washington train station.

Elosie Griffin, Contributing Writer

It has been said that Port’s annual Chanukah celebration at the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is one of the most widely attended Chanukah celebrations on Long Island.  Not only do many of its attendees describe it as being a “magical experience,” but they also claim that it is always a great way of celebrating the religious diversity in our community.

The event at the LIRR was held on the first night of Chanukah, Dec. 2, at the Port Washington LIRR Station at 3 p.m.  It was sponsored annually by Chabad of Port Washington, which was founded in 1991 and kept alive by community members in Long Island. It was dedicated to keeping the Jewish faith alive and educating others. 

Chanukah is the Jewish celebration of the miracle of the lights that lasts for eight days.  During this time, a nightly lighting of the menorah occurs.  These lightings include prayers and are typically followed by the traditional Hanukkah foods, such as latkes and jelly-filled doughnuts. Furthermore, although Chanukah is not included in the “High Holy Days” category of Jewish holidays, it still holds significance to many Jews.

 “I love Chanukah,” said senior Daisy Griffin.  “It is a holiday that brings my family together and reminds us to be grateful for the small miracles of life.  I love the feeling of peace and safety I get when I look at the lights in our window, and I have many happy childhood memories of the holiday.  I think that the train station menorah lighting is a really important event and everyone should try to go.”

At the event, the rabbi and other devoted congregants from Chabad lit the menorah, while singing the holiday prayers to the crowd. Chabad also arranged for menorahs to be placed in locations such as on the corner of Main Street and Shore Road, at Manorhaven Village Hall, at the intersection of Port Washington Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, and on the lawn of Chabad.

“I like seeing the giant menorah by the train station when I walk home,” said sophomore Maddie Kirker. “It reminds me how important my Jewish identity is, and I think it’s amazing that our town celebrates that.  Especially now, with everything that has happened in the world, I think it’s especially meaningful.”  

The giant menorah is a symbol of tolerance in our community, and for many Port citizens, this event has become a staple of wintertime.  People of all different religions and ages were in attendance, and Tri-M musicians from Schreiber also performed several holiday songs. 

“The Chanukah menorah lighting was absolutely amazing. I had never gone before and it was a surreal experience. I attended as part of my Tri-M volunteer hours, but what I witnessed was so incredibly cool.  There was dancing, music, and even someone juggling fire! It was awesome seeing the community come together for such an amazing holiday,” said sophomore Susana Noto.  

Port has always discussed the importance of tolerance and celebrating people from all different backgrounds, and for many, Chanukah at the LIRR is one such example of action being taken.