• James Armstrong

Festival of Lights brightens seasonal darkness in local communities


Despite cold and rainy weather, a group of Hudson residents shared the light of Hanukkah fortified with hot chocolate, doughnuts and latkes.

The annual Hudson Festival of Lights began Friday, November 30 with the lighting of the tree in front of the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre. Seasonal songs and traditional carols sung by the children’s choir from Saint Thomas Aquinas Church accompanied the event under the direction of Jane Blais with the support of adult choristers from the community. Highland Bagpiper Jenna Dennison brought the skirl of the pipes to the occasion. Rolly Schulz and Frank Royle co-emceed the celebration and James Armstrong provided piano accompaniment for the somewhat frosty outdoor occasion.


Rabbi Nachum Labkowski marked the first day of the eight-day festival of Hanukkah with a special blessing and the lighting of an indoor and outdoor Menorah in Saint-Lazare.

Sharing the light

The theme of light continued into the weekend with the lighting of the outdoor candelabrum, known as a Menorah, in Hudson and Saint-Lazare on Sunday, December 2. The lighting of the Menorah marks the beginning of the eight–day holiday of Hanukkah.

“The message of Hanukkah is the message of light,” said Rabbi Labkowski of the Chabad Centre for Jewish Life of Saint-Lazare at the beginning of the celebration on Sunday afternoon. Labkowski described the light as always being victorious over darkness.

“A small amount of light dispels a lot of darkness. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference,” he said.

History of public Menorah lighting

The lighting of outdoor public Menorah is part of a worldwide Hanukkah or Festival of Lights initiative launched by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson in 1973. It recalls the victory of a small group of Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks 138 BCE who had overrun Israel and defiled the temple. Upon recapturing the temple, only one undefiled jar of oil used for fueling the Menorah was found. Usually, one jar of oil was sufficient for one day but, miraculously, it lasted for eight days.

“Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness,” stated Labkowski.


The sparkle and glitter of lighting the traditional Christmas tree kicked off Hudson’s 2018 Festival of Lights.

Member of Parliament honoured

In Saint-Lazare, the lighting of the outdoor Menorah was preceded by a community celebration that included activities for children, lots of food and the traditional blessing and lighting of the first candle of Hanukkah. Special guest of the event Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke was presented with a handmade crystal Menorah in appreciation for his support of the community.

Spreading the light in Hudson

In Hudson, Councillor Helen Kurgansky and Mayor Jamie Nicholls and a group of residents gathered for the lighting of the outdoor Menorah.

“Lighting the Menorah within our Festival of Lights is a very special occasion,” said Nicholls. “It celebrates our coming together as a group and marks our respect for each other. As human beings, we all share a need for light in this dark period of the year,” he added as the first light of the Menorah appeared.

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