…and Fresh Meadows and Holliswood! Chanukah celebration was different but not forgotten here in Jamaica Estates, as we put a new twist and a few turns into our Chanukah planning. During a pandemic, how do you celebrate a holiday that’s traditionally full of indoor chagigos and filled with close family, friends, fun, and laughter? You bring it outdoors!
In grand style! As a sign of neighborhood spirit and collaboration, the neighborhood shuls joined together to present a Chanukah Car Parade. Efforts were coordinated by Rabbi Shmuel Kogan of the Bukharian Chai Center, Ariel Shimonov of the Bukharian Jewish Community Center of Jamaica Estates, and Simcha Sommer and Zach Herskowitz of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates. Other sponsoring synagogues included the Congregation Beth El, Congregation Anshei Shalom of Jamaica Estates, Kahal Beis Yitzchak, House of Torah, and the Young Israel of Holliswood.
Protected and directed by both the NYPD and Queens Shmira, the parade route started at Cunningham Park and wove through the streets, bringing joy and light to the entire neighborhood. Event planners had reservations for nearly 100 cars and floats but the final total of more than 200 vehicles created this wonderful event. In addition to children, young and old, participants included decorated trailers, including one with a fire juggler, the Chai Riders motorcycle group, and large inflatables atop many cars (animals, dreidels, menorahs). Of course, it would not be a festival without music, light sticks, sufganiyot, and chocolate gelt for all participants. The final stop was at the “Grand Chanukah House” (home of Harold and Fran Biller), elaborately decorated with many Chanukah lights and inflatables, as well as a 12-foot lit menorah!
As the parade got underway, Rabbi Dov Lerner of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, riding atop the lead float, declared into a loud speaker: “To the west, the sun is on its way down, and on Chanukah it is exactly as the sun begins to set that our obligation to light the candles begins, because as we see darkness, it is our obligation to fill the world with light; and as the streets start to empty, we fill them with noise and joy and gratitude and celebration. With this magnificent trail of cars that goes as far as the eye can see, we go through our neighborhood showing our commitment to bring light into each other’s lives and hope into the darkness. Chanukah Samei’ach to one and all!”