Hundreds of people celebrated Chanukah outside for nearly three hours in Forest Hills on Sunday, December 18.

A fire and magic show, live music, and elected officials were all part of the Chabad of Forest Hills North’s eighth annual Chanukah party in front of Yellowstone Municipal Park.

Rabbi Mendy Hecht spoke about the meaning of Chanukah. “Remember the old JFK line: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ I propose that a deeper message of Chanukah is: ‘Ask not what your lights will do for you; but ask what your lights will do for others.’”

When the Menorah in the Holy Temple was lit, the windows were narrow inside but opened wide to the outside. “This was because the Temple was lighting up the world, not vice versa,” said Rabbi Hecht.

“Let’s ask ourselves over and over: ‘What will my light this year do for others?’”

Wearing a blue kippah, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said “Anti-Semitism is becoming a norm, but not in Queens County. We will never accept anti-Semitism in our county.”

The Borough President visited Babi Yar before the war started in Ukraine. “So even as we celebrate and remember those who went before us, we say Never Again, especially in our county, and our state, and in the world.”

“Israel has the right to exist. We will always fight to ensure that Israel exists, not just on social media but right in person.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng said the recent bipartisan Congressional resolution says, “We stand against anti-Semitism, and we will not tolerate it in New York, and across the City, and across the country.”

Two million dollars was secured for Queens “to make sure that we are protecting our congregants, and protecting our neighbors, who have the right – and should have the ability – to worship freely and safely.”

City Councilwoman Lynn Schulman said, “Chanukah is about freedom, and it’s about light, and I want to make sure that the light shines on all of us.”

One in four Jewish people “is a target of anti-Semitism,” said Schulman. She made sure an initiative and money “to target anti-Semitism” was in this year’s City budget. “I’m here for the Jewish community.”

“I’m a big supporter of Israel. I will always be a supporter of Israel.”

The new Chief of Patrol Borough Queens North, Christine Bastedenbeck, said, “We are here for you. Anything that you need, you reach out to us, and we will work hand-in-hand with you.”

The C-Kids, students at the Chabad of Forest Hills North, sang from the stage: “I’ll be a neis. I will be a bright light. I will be a Miracle of Light.”

Israeli singer Itzik Weingarten and keyboardist and singer Michael Krohn sang upbeat songs. Young men dressed as clowns and dreidels danced with the many children attending.

Free menorahs, candles, doughnuts, and water were given out. Rabbi Mendy Hecht lit a 30-foot oil menorah from an FDNY “cherry picker.” Chocolate coins then dropped.

A video about Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, as well as his words about Chanukah, was played on a screen.

The magician, Ivan Stratienco, had a young girl, Sophia, lying down, seemingly levitating. A fire show by a duo closed out the evening.

Police from the 112 Precinct cordoned off the block and provided security.

By David Schneier