Menorah arrives on Greenfield Common for first time in nearly 30 years

A Hanukkah menorah has been erected next to the creche on the Greenfield Common.

A Hanukkah menorah has been erected next to the creche on the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A Hanukkah menorah has been erected next to the creche on the Greenfield Common.

A Hanukkah menorah has been erected next to the creche on the Greenfield Common. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 12-06-2023 5:30 PM

Modified: 12-06-2023 7:31 PM


GREENFIELD — Nearly 30 years after a menorah was last placed on the Greenfield Common, the traditional candelabra has once again been erected in recognition of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

The eight-branch Hanukkah menorah was built and placed on the Greenfield Common this week by resident Jasper Lapienski, who also serves as the Precinct 7 city councilor.

“It’s a practice that’s pretty widespread,” Lapienski said about menorahs in town centers, including Amherst, Keene, New Hampshire and Brattleboro, Vermont. “I thought it would be really wonderful to have a public menorah in the same way that other communities do.”

Beginning on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 3:36 p.m., which is the earliest possible time before nightfall, Lapienski will light the menorah. Each evening, an additional candle will be lit until all eight candles are lit, representing the eight days of the holiday.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the seventh night of Hanukkah, Lapienski has organized an illumination ceremony, during which Mayor Roxann Wedegartner will light a candle at 5:30 p.m. The menorah lighting will be followed by a potato pancake social at 6 p.m. at the Greenfield Public Library.

Lapienski said he did this at the suggestion of Rabbi Chaim Adelman of the Chabad House at Amherst. Though there was a menorah on the common in 1994 — which Lapienski said was appreciated and well-intentioned — this would be the first one to be erected by and celebrated by the Jewish community that observes the holiday.

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In November 1994, Green Fields Market requested permission from the Selectboard to install an 8-foot menorah on the common, according to The Recorder archives. A collection of businesses, including Greenfield Supply Co., Knapp’s Hardware, as well as carpenters Gary Seldon, Stephen Walk and Van Wood of SmallCorp., helped construct the wood and Plexiglas structure. The request came in response to a “weekend of rash antisemitic graffiti,” which included swastikas, the letters “KKK” — a reference to the hate group, the Ku Klux Klan — and the phrase, “Hail Hitler,” spray-painted on the side of buildings in Greenfield, including Temple Israel. The menorah was meant to send a message of support for the Jewish community.

The new menorah, which Lapienski erected on Tuesday, is located next to the creche, which has been displayed on the common since about 1950, according to archives. It is put up each year by the committee, Keep Christ in Christmas.

Lapienski said given the significance of the event, he expects a crowd at the Dec. 13 illumination ceremony. In addition to Adelman and Wedegartner, he has invited local legislators and other members of the faith community.

He explained that while the intention of menorahs at home is to remind Jews of the miracle God did for them, the public display is meant to amplify that message. Anyone in need of a menorah is welcome to attend the Dec. 7 lighting, as Lapienski will have free menorahs to hand out.

“Any Jewish person who wants to light a menorah should be able to,” he said.

Lighting schedule

■Thursday, Dec. 7, at 3:36 p.m.

■Friday, Dec. 8, at 3:36 p.m.

■Saturday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m.

■Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m.

■Monday, Dec. 11, at 5:30 p.m.

■Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m.

■Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 5:30 p.m.

■Thursday, Dec. 14, at 4 p.m.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.