Temple Israel's Rabbi Michael Roscoe, left, led members of his congregation in prayer and song at the community menorah lighting ceremony Nov. 28 on the grounds of East End Arts. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Temple Israel of Riverhead held a community menorah lighting ceremony last night to mark the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Rabbi Michael Roscoe led the ceremony, which was attended by about two dozen people and included prayers and songs.

The menorah has been relocated from the riverfront to the southern portion of the grounds of the East End Arts complex, which stretches from Main Street to Heidi Behr Way on the riverfront.

After the ceremony concluded, those in attendance were invited to help themselves to doughnuts provided by Temple Israel. Fried foods, like potato latkes and doughnuts, are traditional treats during Hanukkah.

The holiday is an eight-day festival that commemorates an ancient miracle: how a one-day supply of oil used to light the candelabra in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after Maccabee drove the Greeks from Israel and reclaimed the temple, lasted for eight days — until a fresh supply of ritually pure oil could be prepared.

Jews remember the rededication of the Holy Temple and the miracle of the holy oil each year by lighting candles on a special candelabra for eight consecutive days at sundown. The holiday is a festive time with get-togethers and gifts.

Roscoe said he hopes that next year, participants will be able to go back to the temple for the traditional Hanukkah celebration, an event that’s been on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rabbi will return to the menorah each night at sundown through Sunday, Dec. 5 to light one additional electric candle for each day of the holiday.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.