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Happy Hanukkah — Let there be light!

Dave Dunlap lights a giant menorah, the newest addition to his spectacular display at Santa’s Village in Monticello, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox

December 12, 2012

Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” is widely considered a relatively minor holiday in the Jewish year. In the United States, however, its closeness to Christmas has brought greater attention to Hanukkah and its gift-giving tradition. Amid the ever-growing flood of Christmas advertising, it may seem especially fitting that the Hanukkah story tells of Jewish culture surviving in a non-Jewish world (www.factmonster.com)

It’s kind of ironic that so many folks think of the Catskills as being rich in Jewish culture—and in many ways it is—but I have scads of friends throughout the Upper Delaware Valley who know little about the holidays and traditions that my Jewish heritage embraces. This past weekend, however, proved to be an opportunity for me to share the Hanukkah story and celebrate with my pals, who wanted to learn more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Santa and have run into him a lot lately, but when Dave and Corinne Dunlap (www.facebook.com/pages/Santas-Village-at-Hilltop-Homes) invited me to help light the newest addition to their holiday display, (a giant menorah) I leaped at the chance.

Admittedly, I might have goaded Dunlap into it, having participated last year in his efforts to help make thousands of children’s Christmas wishes come true by creating a winter wonderland and by giving his time (and considerable talents) to the Toys for Tots and CASA kids (www.sullivancountycasa.org) campaign, now in its fifth year. While celebrating last season, I may have mentioned (once or twice) that my peeps have a holiday, too. When Dave called, I had no idea what he had in store, so I was shocked to find that he and Corinne had planned a surprise party to go with the menorah-lighting ceremony, replete with a dinner, gifts, dreidels and gelt. Everyone gathered outside as I sang (OY!) the traditional blessing and translated the meaning for the many friends they had so kindly invited to join us, and then we retired indoors to enjoy an incredibly festive party.