Updated: 3:25 p.m., Dec. 10: Last week, the Bellmores welcomed the holiday season with two special annual events — the menorah lighting on Dec. 1 and the Holiday Extravaganza on Dec. 3, both hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of the Bellmores.
Residents and members of Congregation Beth Ohr gathered at the Bellmore LIRR station for the menorah lighting, to celebrate Hanukkah. The ceremony including holiday messages from chamber President Jim Spohrer, Rabbi Dahlia Bernstein, of Beth Ohr, and local elected officials.
“Thanks for coming out here tonight — and for the Bellmore chamber, for the upstanding work they do,” Hempstead Councilman Chris Carini told the crowd. “Happy Hanukkah, God bless, peace to all and enjoy the night.”
The event included a musical performance by Hebrew school students from Beth Ohr, and the lighting of the fourth candle on the 10-foot-tall menorah. Latkes and donuts were served, courtesy of the synagogue.
“It’s so nice, after all that we’ve been through, to have the opportunity to be able to gather together as a community — and ultimately, that’s what this is all about,” Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads said. “We want to thank the Bellmore chamber for being front and center in making sure we can gather together. Light your hearts, light your homes and enjoy the blessings that we share together.”
Members of the Bellmore Fire Department and the Nassau County Auxiliary Police also attended. “I just had an experience that I’ve never had as a Jewish person,” Bernstein said, “and that was to have an escort of police and fire trucks, making way for a line of Jewish people who just want to celebrate Hanukkah.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she added. “I just want our kids to feel so proud to be Jewish — and for all of our faiths, just for us to be who we are without being afraid. It is an amazing gift.”
Two days later, resident gathered once again, at around 6 p.m., for the Holiday Extravaganza. Although a tree lighting did take place last year, there were a few changes necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. “It happened with no horse and buggy rides, but we did have a tree lighting, because we had to — it’s tradition,” Debby Izzo, of the Bellmore Chamber, said of last year’s event.
This year, Bedford Avenue, starting at Sunrise Highway, was closed off so patrons could once again enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday snacks and treats, and pose for photos with Santa Claus, who arrived on a golf cart.
At around 7 p.m., after a brief ceremony, the Christmas tree next to the LIRR station was lit. Missing from this year’s event, amid continuing pandemic caution, was a school chorus performance and a live nativity scene, both of which, Izzo said, will be back next year.
“I want to thank the community for dealing with the mayhem the [September] street festival brings to the neighborhood,” Izzo said. “If it wasn’t for the street festival mayhem, we wouldn’t be able to do this event — we wouldn’t have the money to do this for the community.”
This was the chamber’s last event of the year, but the organization will welcome a new board of directors at its installment dinner on Jan. 29. “We will be inducting our new slate, retiring the old slate and honoring several people,” Izzo said.
For information about upcoming chamber events, call (516) 679-1875 or email email@example.com.