NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) -New Bern residents and those who are part of the Jewish community belted out beautiful Hanukkah songs Thursday night, as they gathered for the first ever Menorah lighting at Union Point Park.
“I actually lived in Israel for many years so to find a Jewish community that isn’t just accepted by a town but within itself is wonderful,” said Nancy Shotland, New Bern resident.
“It was really awesome to be here and be a part of this,” said Melodie Salley, New Bern resident. “Seeing how people turned out from the community to support us and the Jewish community.”
It’s been a long time coming for Temple B’nai Sholem trustees Jody Sherman and Maxine Weisman as they’ve fought to have a Menorah placed at Union Point Park since last year.
“A lot of talking, explaining, and learning but we all came together,” Sherman said. “That’s most important.”
“We had a dream and there were concerns,” Weisman said. “We found a way to make it work where everybody felt comfortable and excited.”
Some were frustrated after no board members seconded a motion to add the Menorah back in November. However, New Bern Mayor Jeffery Odham believes it was a big misunderstanding.
“I wasn’t too concerned about us having a discussion, I knew it was going to happen,” Odham said. “It was just procedure the way the situation worked out. That’s why I told everyone don’t get so upset when you see something happen, find out what’s going on.”
Odham joined the community in celebrating the historic Menorah lighting as it will now be displayed yearly with the city’s Christmas decorations.
Sherman and Weisman say the Menorah has an automatic timer on it, meaning an additional light will flip on at 5:30 p.m. for the next seven nights.
Many in the Jewish community say witnessing the first ever Menorah lighting at Union Point Park is memorable.