City Begins Hanukkah Tradition
It was a bit chilly with a light drizzle just after sundown on Sunday, but the warmth of brotherhood could be felt as a few dozen people gathered in the shadow of one holiday symbol to honor another.
On this night, in North Adams' first-ever public ceremony marking the occasion, a menorah would be lit to begin Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. Rabbi Rachel Barenblat of Congregation Beth Israel presided over the event and her son 9-year-old Drew Zuckerman would have the honor of lighting the menorah's middle lamp and the first light of the other eight.
The menorah stands across from City Hall, on the Marshall Street side of Dr. Arthur O. Rosenthal Square, and in front of one of the city's large Christmas trees. Not entirely incongruous after hearing local historian Paul W. Marino tell the story of the city's Methodist church being lost to fire in 1929, and receiving its first offer of help from the House of Israel, Congregational Beth Israel's predecessor.
With the ceremony focusing attention on Rosenthal Square, I was curious about the doctor and why he was so honored with this island in the asphalt of the city's busiest intersection. Of course, I asked Marino who told me Dr. Rosenthal was a well known and much-loved physician of the "old-fashioned variety" who made house calls, and between he and Dr. Maurice G. Spitzer "probably delivered most of the adult population of North Adams."