Menorah Lightings Honor Hanukkah Traditions in Newburyport & Amesbury

By Emily Cowan, Newburyport.Com Correspondent

local menorah lightings

All are invited to attend annual Menorah lightings in Newburyport and Amesbury, a wonderful opportunity to gather as a community to share the joy of Hanukkah traditions. The 2022 Festival of Lights begins this year at sunset on Sunday, December 18th and ends at sunset on Monday, December 26th. Each year Newburyport and Amesbury illuminate their respective downtowns with festive menorah lightings on all eight nights of Hanukkah. These public celebrations are open to all and enable our local Jewish communities to celebrate and share their cherished Chanukah traditions with all who would like to attend.

Newburyport’s Congregation Ahavas Achim will honor Hanukkah tradition by lighting a signature 6-foot-tall electric menorah in MarketMenorah Lighting, Market Square Newburyport Square. Newburyport will host an opening ceremony on Sunday, December 18th at 5:30 pm in Market Square, with prayers, songs and the lighting of the first candle, led by Spiritual Leader, Alex Matthews. Menorah lightings will take place in historic Market Square at 5:30 pm on 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 25th, 26th. On Friday, December 23rd the lighting will take place at 3:30 pm. These gatherings are open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

In Amesbury, come light the menorah at the picturesque gazebo, in front of the Amesbury Public Library at 5:30 pm nightly during Hanukkah. The Grand Menorah Lighting is scheduled for 5:30 pm on Wednesday, December 21st and will be lead by, Rabbi Zalman Borenstein; of Congregation Anshe Sholom Chabad in Haverhill. The Amesbury menorah lightings are organized by Rachel Barcelona, founder and Director of The Brave Maccabees of Amesbury (Formally known as The Amesbury Chanukah Menorah Committee), with support from members of the Amesbury community, including Amesbury Spiritual Leader, Jerald Litcofsky, and other Jewish and gentile community members. The Amesbury’s menorah lightings traditionally include storytelling, songs, jelly doughnuts, and gelt (chocolate coins) for the children. The Grand Lighting generally runs from 5:30 – 7 pm. The start time for other evenings is 5:30 and there is not a set end time but they tend to be shorter than the Grand Lighting.

Community menorah lightings are an annual tradition that is relatively new to our area. Newburyport began its public menorah lightings in Market Square in 2012. Amesbury followed up with its own nightly celebrations in 2013. In 2019 when Hanukkah fell close to Christmas, Newburyport celebrated with an interfaith candle lighting service lead by: Congregation Leader Alex Matthews from Congregation Ahavas Achim, Reverend Rebecca Bryan from the First Religious Society Unitarian Universalist Church and Reverend Chris Nay from the Central Congregational Church.

Congregation Ahavas Achim, founded in 1896, is a welcoming and diverse spiritual community whose goal is to educate and inspire individuals and families to actively participate in Jewish Life, Torah study, prayer, acts of kindness. The congregation welcomes families and individuals from all backgrounds.