VENTNOR – The weather was perfect Sunday evening for a night of celebrating the light. Chabad at the Shore held its annual menorah lighting on the first night of Chanukah in front of the Chai Center on Atlantic Avenue.

Rabbi Avrohom Rapoport made the menorah lighting a festive event speaking about the Miracle of Light and Freedom, while children of the synagogue’s Hebrew School sang Chanukah songs.

Jewish tradition holds that King Antiochus persecuted the Jewish people, forbidding them from observing their religion until freedom fighters, called Maccabees, revolted against the Syrian army. The Maccabees took back their temple, which had been ransacked. When they attempted to light the menorah, they discovered the sacred oil had been defiled and there was only enough oil for one night. They lit the menorah anyway, and miraculously, the oil lasted eight nights.

The rabbi said Chanukah celebrates light over darkness and freedom over oppression, and that is the Jewish people’s reason for celebration.

Before he lit the lead candle, called the shamash, and the candle representing the first night of Chanukah, Rabbi Rapoport presented Police Chief Douglas Biagi with a plaque honoring him on his leadership and service upon his retirement from the Ventnor City Police Department.

“Mazel tov,” the Rabbi said.

Biagi reflected on his years in service as “36 years of mitzvahs.”

“That was my job. It was awesome,” Biagi said.

Congressman Jeff Van Drew attended the event encouraging the crowd to have “faith in our families, faith in our religion and faith in the United States of America.”

A member of the Ventnor City Fire Department climbed high atop a ladder truck to drop gelt – goldfoil wrapped chocholates – to the delight of children below.

Afterward, the celebration moved inside the Chai Center where participants enjoyed hot dogs, latkes, donuts and drinks.

Attendees got to vote on their favorite menorah on display. The children each made their own unique menorahs, which included versions made from Tonka dump trucks, cupcakes, Playdoh, soda cans, dinosaurs, flower pots and Barbie dolls.

The Chabad family will continue its holiday celebration 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, when it holds a free evening of latkes and Chanukah fun. RSVP 609-833-8500 or email

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Categories: Downbeach

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.