Each year, Jewish communities in Newburyport and Amesbury illuminate their respective downtowns with festive menorah lightings on all eight nights of Hanukkah. The Festival of Lights begins this year at sunset on Sunday, December 2.
Newburyport’s Congregation Ahavas Achim will light up its signature 6-foot-tall electric menorah in historic Market Square at 6 PM on December 12, 13, 16, and 18; at 5 PM on December 14 and 17; and at 3:30 PM on Friday, December 15, due to the Sabbath. Prior to the December 2 lighting, families from the Hebrew School will walk around the neighborhood singing traditional Hanukkah songs at some of the local businesses. These events are open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
In Amesbury, come light the Hanukkah menorah in the gazebo in front of the Amesbury Public Library at 6 PM on December 17 through 19, except for Friday, December 15, when the lighting will be held at 3:30 PM. On Thursday, December 14, Rabbi Benjamin Resnick of Congregation Ahavas Achim will make an official appearance. Amesbury Mayor Kenneth Gray has also committed to attend on that evening.
Organized by Rachel Barcelona and Gerald Litcofsky, with support from members of the Amesbury community, both Jewish and gentile, Amesbury’s menorah lightings typically include storytelling, songs, jelly doughnuts, and gelt (chocolate coins) for the children. In the spirit of the holiday, donations to Fisher House Boston, which provides lodging for families of hospitalized veterans, are encouraged. Those who come to the lightings are asked to bring canned soups/stews with meat, or canned fruits or vegetables for the community food pantry Our Neighbors Table. All ages are welcome – dress warmly!
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.
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.