Terry O'Shaughnessy


The giant menorah is lit in Hudson

Hudson may be one of the oldest towns in the region, but its lighting of the giant menorah in front of town hall this week in celebration of Hanukkah is one of its youngest traditions.

I remember when the tradition was started three years ago by the rabbi who heads up the Chabad Jewish Community Centre of St-Lazare and Hudson, Rabbi Nachum Lebkowski.

A couple of weeks before I’d received a press release announcing that a menorah would be put up in front of town hall and that a young rabbi, who had not been in St-Lazare that long, would be the one to light it. I was surprised by the event for some reason, and proud that it would be happening in my town.

The giant menorah was to be erected in front of the four or five massive pines that are covered in Christmas lights at this time of year, and the site was all set up, complete with a ladder for the rabbi to climb.

That night of Hudson’s first official Hanukkah was cold and rainy but a lot of people dropped by, including members of the clergy from the town.

And last night when the menorah was again ceremoniously lit (continuing this season of Hanukkah, which began last Saturday and will continue until Sunday, people turned up on a bitterly cold night to celebrate.

In this small town with its four churches, Hanukkah has become a holiday tradition in Hudson and I’m glad that, right at this very moment, a menorah is gleaming among the Christmas trees.

Maybe it’s the recent rhetoric from Quebec City about all the ways so many of us here don’t fit in with their dream society that makes the sight of the mixing and blending of traditions so satisfying. It feels inclusive in a way that so much else seems to be about exclusivity lately.

In a time when you can’t seem to walk two steps before finding out how you don’t belong, a menorah amongst the Christmas trees seems to offer an alternative to that message.




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