On Sunday, December 22nd, hundreds of residents from all faiths came together to share in the first public lighting of a menorah on P.T. Barnum Square. The crowd enjoyed traditional music and then a ceremony celebrating the Winter Solstice, followed by more music and then a drum circle.
Bethel resident Bill Hillman had asked for help in raising the funds for the 6 foot tall menorah, and dozens of locals responded, exceeding the initial goal and providing the funds needed. Then, after being included in the five P.T. Barnum Square holiday displays, another call went out to raise the money needed to erect and insure the display, and yet again residents answered the call.
In explaining the impetus behind what he called Project Menorah, Hillman said "for many years, I have hoped for an opportunity to share one of my holiday traditions with Bethel. While I display a Hanukkah Menorah in my home's window each year, it's long overdue to add to the inclusive and lovely display put up by volunteers at P.T. Barnum."
The idea to include other forms of worship came when Hillman realized that the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and a point of celebration for many faiths coincided in 2019 with the first day of Hanukkah.