Hundreds celebrate Hanukkah's 1st night in Ridgefield with song, dance: 'Adding light in the world'

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox
Avremi Elberg, a volunteer with Yeshiva of New Haven lit the menorah at the Chanukah Village Walk in Ridgefield on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. 

Avremi Elberg, a volunteer with Yeshiva of New Haven lit the menorah at the Chanukah Village Walk in Ridgefield on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. 

JC Martin/For Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD — Sounds of live music filled the air and lights from dreidels lit up the night Sunday as several hundred people celebrated the first night of Hanukah in front of Deborah Ann's Sweet Shop at 409 Main St. 

The event, which was free, was called the Chanukah Village Walk and involved half a dozen stores and other locations in downtown Ridgefield. 

The holiday of Hanukkah represents seeing light over darkness, said Rabbi Sholom Deitsch of the Chabad Jewish Center of Ridgefield, which hosted the event. 

"As the story of Hanukkah demonstrates, the little jug of oil that was supposed to last for one night ended up lasting for eight nights," said Deitsch, a Ridgefield resident, who was at the event with his wife, Chana Deitsch.

This is the fourth year the event has been held in Ridgefield. Last year, it was at the Lounsbury House at 316 Main St.

Wearing large blue and white dreidel costumes, students from the Yeshiva of New Haven sung and danced to traditional Jewish music. Local teens from CTeen — Chabad Ridgefield's singing group, also led the crowd in the festivities.

Despite the crisp, winter air, people of all ages joined in, with smiles on their faces.

When the Menorah lighting ceremony began, Deborah Ann Backes, owner of Deborah Ann's, lit the shamash, which is the leading candle in the middle of the menorah. This was done as a token of appreciation by Chabad Jewish Center, since the event was held on the store's property. Backes recently relocated her business from 381 Main St. 

Deitsch then led participants in prayer to symbolize the first night of Hanukkah. Each night, another candle will be lit until the eight nights of Hanukkah are over. 

Village walk

Prior to the Menorah lighting, participants met in front of Deborah Ann's to pick up a map that contained a list of vendors involved in the event. Vendors included the Toy Chest, Coldwell Banker Office, Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, Squash's Ridgefield Office Supply, Deborah Ann's, Tazza Cafe, and Heather Neumann Salaga@Houlihan Lawrence.

Each store had a separate activity for families to participate in, such as a photo booth, tattoo art and balloon sculpting, Other stores gave out latkes, which are similar to fried potato pancakes, donuts, and Hanukkah gelt, which are round chocolates in the shape of coins.

While Chabad Jewish Center is based in Ridgefield, it serves the entire United States. 

"We're always looking to reach out to the general community and we do different events that we're constantly inviting other communities to join. It's all about kindling that little candle and adding light in the world, and we bring light, love, respect and kindness. Even if it's a small amount, the more we contribute to the world, the lighter the world becomes, regardless of how dark it is out there," Deitsch said. "That's the message of Hanukkah and that's the message of what's going on in the world today."