Hebrew Academy kids sing for the Hanukkah holiday

Dozens of elected officials, local clergy, members of the community and students from the Silverstein Hebrew Academy joined at the Village Green in Great Neck Thursday evening for a Hanukkah celebration and menorah lighting.
Chabad of Great Neck, in conjunction with the Silverstein Hebrew Academy, organized the menorah lighting celebration, which featured songs about the holiday, prayer and hot chocolate and doughnuts.
“Hanukkah unites everyone to come,” Rabbi Joseph Geisinsky of Chabad of Great Neck said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, if you celebrate any holiday.”
“Hanukkah brings the light and wants to bring out the potential of every person,” Geisinsky added.
Chanie Geisinsky, associate head of school at the Silverstein Hebrew Academy, said a lot of the emphasis of the celebration is on involving children.
Fourth-graders from the academy’s student choir performed traditional and contemporary Hanukkah songs.
“Often you have adults doing things with children on the sidelines,” Chanie Geisinsky said. “We believe children are our future leaders so we put lots and lots of passion and excitement” towards their involvement.
She said the academy teaches students the “laws” of the holiday, but does so through celebration.
“We believe that there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law,” Chanie Geisinsky said. “We make sure that our kids know both.”
“The way we do holidays in school is that it’s all relevant and meaningful, it’s not just learning laws,” she added. “What could be more relevant than singing about the holiday in public?”
The student choir, Chanie Geisinsky said, does not specifically prepare to sing holiday songs, but the academy incorporates elements of song and dance throughout the school year.
The celebration also featured chocolate coins being tossed to the children from a cherry picker provided by Great Neck-based Santelli & Sons Landscape Design.
Many local elected officials attended the celebration and menorah lighting, including North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral, Great Neck Park District Superintendent Jason Marra and park district Commissioner Frank Cilluffo.
Bosworth said it was “wonderful” to attend the ceremony and celebrate the Jewish holiday.
“The rain stopped, the stars came out and we’re here to celebrate together,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll celebrate for many years to come right here.”
Joseph Geisinsky said the menorah is representative of “an entire nation.”
Although each candle is lit differently by each person, he said, everyone “belongs to the same menorah.”
“We should all share that light together,” he said. “The more we share strength, happiness and joy, the more we support each other with unity and will be able to strengthen our people and make this country a better place.”

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Joe Nikic

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