Home for the holidays: Morrisville menorah lighting

Last weekend, Morrisville hosted its annual menorah lighting as the Jewish community celebrated the final day of Hanukkah.
Rabbi Cotlar and Mayor T.J. Cawley after lighting all eight candles on the menorah.
Rabbi Cotlar and Mayor T.J. Cawley after lighting all eight candles on the menorah.
Max Spiegel

On Dec. 14, the second annual Morrisville Menorah Lighting celebrated the last night of Hanukkah from 6 to 7 p.m at the Town of Morrisville town hall. The event featured live lighting of a giant menorah and offered refreshments of hot cider and Hanukkah donuts, deep-fried, jelly or custard-filled powder sugar donuts. The celebration then closed out with a special performance from Jewish recording artist Tali Yess. 

The lighting started with a speech from Morrisville Mayor T.J. Cawley on the importance of peace in the community on the special night. He thanked the audience for their attendance and passed the microphone over to Rabbi Cotlar from the Chabad in Cary. 

The menorah lighting was celebrated by the Morrisville community at the Morrisville town hall. (Max Spiegel)

Cotlar spoke briefly on how lighting the menorah on the last night of Hanukkah is a symbol of light in otherwise dark times that are happening in the world. He then led everyone in the Hebrew prayers for lighting the menorah, and proceeded to light all eight candles for the final night of Hanukkah. 

Once the menorah was fully lit, attendees made their way inside Fire Station No. 1 for the performance from Tali Yess, and enjoyed ciders and donuts, while mingling with one another. 

When asked about the significance of the event, Cotlar emphasize the benefits the people in the wider community who attended could takeaway from the menorah lighting. 

Rabbi Cotlar and Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley lit the final candle of the menorah. (Max Spiegel)

“A lot of times, people can get very overwhelmed by seeing negativity and darkness in the world, and there’s a lot of it,” he said. “Hanukkah is supposed to remind us that we have to do our part, and don’t worry about what is going on out there.” 

He also attested to the power that light had, and the dual roles it played as symbolism for kindness and hope. “There is symbolism every single day, and having another light is very powerful. When we in our own circle add in light, that has a ripple effect,” he said. 

Although the tradition is in its early years, Cotlar hopes that it will grow to become a well-established community event, just as it has in neighboring areas. He hopes that Jewish members of Morrisville are proud of their heritage and continue to return to the event annually.

Hanukkah is supposed to remind us that we have to do our part, and don’t worry about what is going on out there.

— Rabbi Cotlar, Chabad of Cary

“We’ve been doing the menorah lighting here in Morrisville for about two years now, but we’ve been doing it in Cary and Apex for almost a decade. Part of that is for the Jewish community to have pride in who they are, and everyone no matter what faith they are in should be comfortable going public. This is very significant for us hosting a public lighting and not just in our homes because I believe every single person should feel comfortable so they can shine their light.” 

Although Hanukkah ended the following day, it remains a integral aspect of the holiday celebrations in the area.

This is the third feature of the four-part series “Home for the holidays,” highlighting local holiday festivities that are unique to the Cary area. 

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