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Hanukkah traditions explained

The ins and outs of the Festival of Lights will be explained Tuesday night at a program presented at the former Jewish temple in Brookhaven.

The Hanukkah presentation, which is free to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln County Historical Museum at 227 Church St. It is hosted by the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society as part of the agreement to host a Jewish program each year in exchange for use of the former B’nai Sholom Temple.

Rabbi Aaron Rozovsky, director of rabbinical services of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, will give the presentation.

Following Rozovsky’s talk and a question-and-answer session, participants will be able to sample Jewish holiday dishes like challah bread, latke, brisket and pastrami, said LCHGS President Cathy Bridge.

The history programs are usually presented at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center but Bridge said it seemed more appropriate to talk about the Jewish holiday at the location of the former temple, built in 1896 by the Reformed Jews.

The women of the congregation sold homemade sweets to people on the passenger trains that stopped in Brookhaven and to locals to raise the $150 needed to purchase the lot on Church Street where the temple was built.

Then the men constructed the building.

It was used, according to the city’s website, until 1970, when the local population of Jews had declined. It was still used on religious holy days, and special occasions like weddings.

The Friedman, Liverman and Samuels families of Wesson and Brookhaven, and the former members of B’nai Shalom’s congregation nationwide, consented to the temple’s donation to the society unanimously as a way to see the historic site preserved. A deconsecration ceremony was held in 2009 and the building was turned over to the historical society through a 99-year lease. Jewish artifacts are preserved in a permanent display inside the museum.

In exchange, experts on the Jewish faith visit Brookhaven to give lectures about Jewish customs and traditions.

This will be Rozovsky’s first visit to the museum.

He was born in Nova Scotia and is the first Jewish chaplain in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. He worked at the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education Student advisor at the Hillei at Miami University of Ohio before taking the job with the Institute.

The LCHGS will host one more event this year, Bridge said.

As part of the organization’s “Night at the Museum” series, they’ll show a video originally broadcast on a Jackson television station in 1975 called “Spotlight on Brookhaven” which includes interviews and entertainment segments. Commercial breaks during the 45-minute broadcast features several Brookhaven businesses that are no longer open, she said.

“Night at the Museum” will be presented in mid-December.