Menorah lightings lead Hanukah programs in Ridgefield

Two public menorah lightings on Main Street are among a variety of Hanukah programs in Ridgefield.

Congregation Shir Shalom’s Rabbi David Reiner and Rabbi Rachel Bearman of Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown will co-host a public menorah lighting ceremony on the last day of Hanukah, Dec. 19, from 5 to 6 on the small grass area along Main Street in front of the CVS parking lot.

“We’re inviting people to bring a canned or nonperishable item to build a mitzvah menorah to be donated to the Ridgefield Food Pantry,” Reiner said. “Also winter coats for the EZ Moving coat drive to benefit the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk.”

“We’ll be singing, lighting the menorah,” said Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray of Temple Shir Shalom.

“There’ll be latkes and jelly donuts,” added Reiner.

“That’s going to be very special. That’s a community-wide menorah lighting on the last night of Hanukah,” Katchko-Gray said. “And the Ridgefield Chorale will be offering a beautiful Hanukah song about light and hope, conducted by Daniela Sikora. And I’ll be leading Hanukah songs at the menorah lighting, and some Israeli dancing.”

The coat drive organized by EZ Moving for Norwalk’s Open Door homeless shelter is close to her heart.

“Ezra Zimmerman of EZ Moving is one of my sons, and I’m very proud of him. He’s done four drives for them,” she said. “The goal is to bring them 1,000 coats. So if everybody brings a coat or two, it’ll help.

A public menorah lighting “open to the entire community” will also be held by Chabad of Ridgefield, a Jewish educational center on West Lane, on the second night of Hanukah, Wednesday, Dec. 13, starting at 6:30 p.m. This, too, will be on Main Street in front of CVS, with live music, dancing, greetings from town officials, prizes for children, and a “chocolate gelt drop with the Ridgefield Fire Department.”

Katchko-Gray also plans a “Hanukah Ruach” (Hanukah Spirit) celebration at Congregation Shir Shalom’s temple on Peaceable Street on Friday, Dec. 15, at 7:30.

“It’s going to feature Hanukah music, and the local guitar wonder Jason Bangser and Brian Besterman, a pianist who has played on Broadway,” she said.

“The music is full of light and joy, just like the holiday. We have some wonderful songs that span centuries and we have modern songs and I like to mix it up.

“We’ll also be involving teens in the service,” she said. “I think that’s important. They’re our future.”

On Sunday, Dec. 17, from 3 to 4 at Shir Shalom, Katchko-Gray plans The Magic of Hanukah.

“That’s a program for young families,” she said. “I’ll be leading Hanukah songs for young children at the program. That’s open to all young families who are interested.”