BERLIN – A new event highlighting Hanukkah will still be held in Berlin this December though not at the location originally planned.
Town officials said this week a menorah lighting event will be held in Berlin, likely at the welcome center, the second Thursday in December. While there was initially a plan to set up the 5-foot-tall menorah on the lawn of the Taylor House Museum, board members decided against featuring a religious display.
“For the last 40 years, the Taylor House Museum has endeavored to tell the diverse stories of Berlin through exhibits and events,” reads a statement from the museum. “Our lawn is considered a public space within the town, and as such the board of directors, following legal counsel, feels that the lawn is not the place for highlighting one particular religious symbol over any other religious symbol. We are proud of the various community partnerships we have formed over the years and look forward to continuing to tell inclusive stories of all Berlin history.”
Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, said she communicated with museum officials in July about the concept of setting up a menorah on the lawn of the museum, as the lawn has been home to “Kringle Cottage” the last few years.
“Some of my friends weren’t sure what Hanukkah was,” Wells said. “They didn’t know what it meant.”
When she worked in Sykesville prior to coming to Berlin, Wells helped start a menorah lighting ceremony there at town hall. After entertaining questions about Hanukkah from people in Berlin, she thought a ceremony like the one in Sykesville would give area residents the chance to learn the significance of the menorah and the history of the holiday.
“There are dreidel games, potato latkes and presents for the kids,” she said. “I thought it’d be good to have a menorah lighting to let people know what it’s about.”
She said the museum’s board approved the request and so she started collecting donations for the event and marketing it. Last week, however, she received a call from the museum and was advised the board, which several years ago also voted against setting up a Christmas tree in the museum lawn, had had a second meeting about the proposal and voted against having the menorah set up at the museum.
“We were sad,” Wells said. “We didn’t even know it was being discussed again. We’d have been happy to attend the meeting.”
The abrupt change in plans won’t cancel the event, however, as Wells said that as of this week the plan was to set up the menorah at the welcome center. Because the first night of Hanukkah is the same day as the Berlin Christmas Parade, she said the menorah lighting ceremony would be held on the last night of Hanukkah, Dec. 14. The event will include potato latkes provided by the Inn Berlin as well as dreidels for children.