Puppeteer-musician Matthew Romain entertains at Windsor Jewish Community Centre Hanukkah party.

By Ron Stang

Neil Finkelstein, a long time Windsor resident, attends the Windsor Jewish Community Centre’s annual Chanukah Party every year and wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s very nice, you meet a lot of people, everyone’s friendly, people we haven’t seen for years – they’re all here,” the resident of the Peretz House senior citizens complex said at the gathering on the afternoon of Dec. 9.

Some of Finkelstein’s neighbors are not Jewish and they also came down from the attached building for the annual luncheon.

“A lot of people are gentiles and they didn’t understand what latkes were and you explain to them and they say, ‘oh good, good,’” the affable Finkelstein said.

Latkes, as well as sufganyot, and snacks, catered by Windsor’s Mazel Tov Kosher Cuisine, made up the table spread for the dozens who attended.

The event hosted different generations but with a definite accent on children. There was a bouncy castle and Windsor puppeteer-musician – “Laughtertainer” – Matthew Romain, enlivened the atmosphere with his ukulele playing and cast of puppets.

Chocolate gelt coins were displayed on the tables and the kids had fun spinning their dreidels.

And there was the ceremonial Menorah lighting, with Rabbi Lynn Goldstein of Congregation Beth El and Rabbi Sholom Galperin of Congregation Shaarey Zedek overseeing, with children gathered round them.

“It’s just a pleasure for the organization to throw a party where we can get all the members of the community together to celebrate a joyous event like Chanukah,” Richie Kamen, director of programming for the centre and senior services, who’s in charge of the event, said.

Rabbi Goldstein, who lit the Menorah, called Chanukah “the very first battle for religious freedom in the world.”

She said rededicating the Second Temple after the Maccabean Revolt in 2nd century BCE showed Jews had “the right to observe our religion as we choose as long as we’re not hurting other people.”

The celebration followed a public gathering at Windsor’s main shopping centre, Devonshire Mall, on Dec. 4, where a 10 ft. tall Menorah was lit in honor of the Windsor Fire Department’s Benefit Fund, the event attended by civic dignitaries including Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

Some 300 attended that 10th annual mall Chabad Menorah lighting, which each year selects a different theme or charity to support. In honor of the fire department fund, the candelabra was whimsically topped by firefighters’ helmets.

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