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Susan Glairon | Longmont Times-Call


LONGMONT, CO — He  calls  it  a  little  crazy,  a little different, something that Longmont has never seen.

But when Rabbi Yakov Borenstein straps his car menorah to his car, Longmont’s only rabbi knows what will happen. People will ask questions.

Non-Jewish people may ask what it is. (A menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum lit during Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, which begins this year at sundown Dec. 21.)

Jewish people will wonder why he has a menorah strapped to his car. They’ll roll down their windows at red lights and ask. They’ll see it in parking lots and want to know more.

And he’ll be ready.

Borenstein says he plans to carry several hundred Hanukkah kits, each of which includes a metal menorah, a box of Hanukkah candles, a dreidel (spinning top game played on Hanukkah) and a booklet complete with ritual prayers for the holiday. He’s hoping to give away 200 of these boxes.

“Wherever we travel, (the car menorah) is going to bring a message of light to the world,” said Rabbi Borenstein. “That’s what we want to do.”

Light equals “acts of goodness and kindness,” he said.

Borenstein is a member of Chabad-Lubavitch, a Jewish outreach movement founded in the late 18th century. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh and last Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, who died in 1994, emphasized outreach to Jews of all backgrounds. Schneerson’s work included organizing the training of thousands of young Chabad rabbis and their wives to spread Orthodox Judaism among Jewish people worldwide.

Today, the movement runs thousands of centers, including the one that Rabbi Borenstein opened in Longmont this year, providing outreach and educational activities for Jews.

Although it’s new to Longmont, the car menorah phenomenon has been popular with emissaries of Chabad, with showing a map of thousands of car menorahs sold worldwide, including Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, China and Thailand.

Rabbi Borenstein decided to purchase a car menorah after terrorists murdered Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, at their Chabad house in Mumbai, India, in November, he said.

“A little light dispels much darkness,” he said. As children, Rabbi Borenstein and Rabbi Holtzberg attended a yeshiva (a Jewish institution) together, and the two chatted in recent years about Holtzberg’s work in India.

In response to Longmont City Council’s invitation, he put up a large menorah on the corner of Sixth and Main streets. He also added several new Hanukkah activities this year, including Sunday’s event, learning to press olive oil, and a latke (traditional potato pancake) and dreidel event on Christmas Eve.

“If Jewish people don’t know what to do on Dec. 24, (they can) join us,” he said.