July 16, 2024
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July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Nissim Black Lights Up Montclair

The Chanukah spirit was alive and dancing in Montclair on the second night of the Festival of Lights. The Chabad of Montclair, with Rabbi Yaacov Leaf at its helm, threw its Annual Chanukah Fest and Grand Menorah Lighting, this year featuring Chasidic rapper Nissim Black.

The chilly November night did not stop the party, as bundled-up adults and kids of all ages helped themselves to chocolate doughnuts and took pictures with the human-sized dancing dreidels collecting donations for Chabad.

The Wandering Queue set up their food truck at the border of the party, and offered their famous pulled barbecue brisket, along with seasonal delights such as turkey noodle soup and latkes that were to die for. (You can ask, but they won’t tell you their secret recipe).

Rabbi Leaf welcomed everyone to the event. “We’re in the season of miracles right now,” he said. “And I want you to know, each and every one of you—get comfortable with miracles in your life because that’s what we are celebrating tonight. … Each and every one of us is capable of doing great things.”

At the candle lighting, Mayor Sean M. Spiller was given the honor of lighting the shamash. “To be able to come together again with loved ones and recommit to our values is a wonderful thing to see,” he said to the crowd of hundreds.

But the star of the night, shining bright as the chanukiah, was Nissim Black. With a fascinating backstory that crosses several religions and a former hip-hop career in Seattle, Black rose to fame in the mainstream Orthodox community when he recorded “Hashem Melech 2.0” with Gad Elbaz in 2016.

Black lives in Israel (“You think you’re cold,” he quipped. “I came from Beit Shemesh; that’s the house of the sun.”), and Montclair was just one stop on his Chanukah tour-de-force, “Bright Lights.”
Several fans were disappointed when he couldn’t stop for pictures post-show as he was on his way to catch a flight to Manchester, England.

All of Black’s music has deeply religious themes, which made for a particularly exciting and uplifting Chanukah concert. The highlight of the performance was Black performing “Eight Flames,” a Chanukah song he wrote after a slew of antisemitic attacks in 2019. The tune has a catchy riff, and the lyrics speak to generations of the Jewish people. “From Egypt to Babylon, The Holocaust Inquisition will pivot us to the pogroms. Yeah, from the Greeks and Rome, but we fight back to light that fire. They got a problem because this neshama won’t expire,” he sang as the audience danced, sang along and waved the light from their phones.

Nissim Black and the Chabad of Montclair set the bar high at the outset of the holiday, establishing a tone that carried through all eight days.

“How can you be so sure there’s a Hashem?” Black asked his audience. “You are the proof there is a God. Every single one of you is a miracle.”

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