Everyone in the crowd could accurately identify the menorah when Rabbi Avrohom Perlstein asked them to point to it: the 15-foot-tall candelabrum illuminated by blue string lights, but not yet lit.
Except, they were only partially correct.
“If I ask you to point to the menorah, you go like this,” Perlstein said, pointing at his chest. “Every single one of us are a menorah much more capable than this one.”
Inner light was the prevailing theme at the annual grand menorah lighting in downtown Salem Thursday night, the sixth day of Hanukkah. Times have been tough, Perlstein said, and “the tides of antisemitism are rising again.”
Indeed, public comments from high-profile celebrities including Ye (Kanye West), have fueled an already-growing fire of antisemitism, according to reports from the Anti-Defamation League.
The darkest times are when light is most important, Perlstein said — especially the light “that resides within every single one of us.”
“We are here because the light that is unique to you, to every single one of us, is the one that needs to shine,” Perlstein said. “To be a light in the darkness — that is real talent.”
Below-freezing temperatures brought by the winter storm kept plenty of people away, but the shrunken crowd reveled in the speeches, the candle lighting-by-firetruck, and especially in the fire dancing.
It was cold, but the freezing rain subsided just long enough for the seventh annual celebration, hosted by the Chabad Center for Jewish Life.
“We who are here braved the cold to come on out,” Perlstein said.
Send tips, questions and comments to reporter Shannon Sollitt at firstname.lastname@example.org