BRATTLEBORO — Stroll downtown, and Christmas screams everywhere.
So imagine the surprise when a recent ad for Brown and Roberts Hardware pictured a child hammering home a different holiday.
“Build and paint your own menorah!” the workshop poster promised. “Enjoy donuts, hot cocoa and chocolate Chanukah gelt!”
The Green Mountain State may morph each December into a 5.9-million-acre set for White Christmas, but the Jewish holiday of Chanukah is set to shine its own light on the area beginning Sunday at dusk.
In Brattleboro, the tradition of displaying an eight-candle menorah is extending from homes to an unusually large number of businesses. Brown and Roberts shoppers, for example, recently found children making their own candelabra with the help of adults from Chabad of Southern Vermont.
“It's a nice partnership,” Rabbi Avremy Raskin said amid shelves for stove pipes and space heaters. “We're living in dark times. Our job is to light the world up with life and love, sharing and caring for others.”
Chabad of Southern Vermont will start by illuminating a 9-foot-tall menorah in front of the West Brattleboro Fire Station Sunday Dec. 22 at 4 p.m.
For its part, the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community has arranged for several downtown businesses to display their own respective smaller candelabra on each of the holiday's eight nights as part of its second annual “Shine a Light for Social Justice” project.
“When you're already lighting eight candles, you might as well imbue them with even more meaning,” BAJC co-president Laura Berkowitz says. “It's clear that many people in our local community feel moved to stand up for social justice and confront the hatred and divisiveness we see around us.”
The 5:30 p.m. events will include:
• a Dec. 22 focus on religious freedom at Sam's Outdoor Outfitters,
• a Dec. 23 focus on climate at Centre Congregational Church,
• a Dec. 24 focus on mental health at the Brattleboro Food Co-op,
• a Dec. 25 focus on LGBTQ rights at the Latchis Theatre,
• a Dec. 26 focus on women's equality at Elliot Street Fish & Chips,
• a Dec. 27 focus on homelessness at the Brooks House atrium,
• a Dec. 28 focus on racial justice at Gallery in the Woods,
• a Dec. 29 focus on immigrant justice at Everyone's Books.
“Hanukkah comes to us from across millennia and still carries the message of freedom, respect, and equality for all people.” Berkowitz says. “It's time that we stand together in the light.”