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Pleasantville Synagogue Holds Pre-Hanukkah Service

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – The Pleasantville Community Synagogue held its annual pre-Hanukkah shabbat service this weekend to bring in the holiday season.

“It’s the celebration of lights and there’s a lot of specific meaning to the religion that dates back thousands of years,” Pleasantville Community Synagogue Rabbi Mark Sameth said.

The synagogue held services both Friday night and Saturday morning, as is the weekly custom. The service on Friday was an hour long and was followed by a shabbat dinner.  The service included many songs and prayers and members were given the opportunity to take blessings and share stories with the synagogue.  During the dinner, tables were filled with traditional dreidels and chocolate coins and members participated in a ceremonial lighting of the menorah.

Rabbi Sameth said that the synagogue is unique in their services because they try to connect their members on more of a social level, especially during holidays. “We want to be welcoming and hospitable for all of our members so that we can connect the people,” Sameth said.

Roberta Kraus, of North White Plains, was one of around 50 people that attended the Friday night service and said that the Hanukkah season was a great reminder of the importance of family.

“This time of year, the most important thing is spending time with your family and loved ones,” Kraus said, who attended the service with her two sons.

Sameth echoed Kraus’ beliefs on spending the holiday with loved ones. “To be honest, my favorite part of this time of year is being home and lighting the menorah with my wife and kids,” Sameth said.

Sameth also said that another holiday favorite of his was singing Hanukkah songs.  His favorite is a song by the title “These Lights” and speaks of the meaning behind lighting the menorah.

“The lyrics talk about how you’re not supposed to use the Hanukkah lights, only look at them and enjoy them,” Sameth said.  “I love that because we live in a world where you’re constantly trying to figure out ways in which you can utilize things for your own good and it’s telling you that you should just sit and appreciate the lights,”

The first night of Hanukkah is Tuesday, December 20 and it will run for eight nights until December 28.

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