Barrie community celebrates Hanukkah with 9-foot menorah outside city hall to combat hate

Click to play video: 'Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah in time of rising antisemitism'
Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah in time of rising antisemitism
In a time of rising global antisemitism, Jewish people are marking Hanukkah. Caryn Lieberman reports – Dec 19, 2022

Chabad Jewish Centre of Barrie will light a nine-foot public Hanukkah menorah at Barrie City Hall Tuesday in response to the rise of antisemitism and to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights.

The menorah will be lit Tuesday to mark the third night of the eight-day Festival of Lights at 7 p.m. outside City Hall on 70 Collier St.

The Jewish Centre of Barrie said the public Hanukkah celebration is being held in response to the worrisome rise in antisemitic rhetoric online and elsewhere.

“Our response to hatred of any kind must never be to cower or hide our faith,” said Rabbi Mendel Nakkar.

“The story of Hanukkah is the tremendous power of light to overcome darkness. We can have no better response to negativity we encounter than to gather together in even greater numbers and celebrate the light of the menorah in public.”

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The annual audit by the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada released in April of this year, found that for the sixth consecutive year, antisemitic incidents in the country rose. The group’s report shows a 7.2 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents in 2021 from 2020.

 9-foot public Hanukkah menorah at Barrie City Hall. Supplied by Chabad Jewish Centre of Barrie

“Unity is what makes a strong community,” Rabbi Nakkar said.

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“Hakhel is a time for us to tune in to this because together we can accomplish great things and bring about the coming of Mashiach — world peace and harmony.”

Hanukkah, from the Hebrew word Chanukah, means “dedication” and commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish reclaimed it in the second centre BCE.

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The centre said this year’s public menorah lighting carries added significance as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the Year of Hakhel or “Gathering,” a one-in-every-seven-years Jewish tradition.

The event will feature a fire and light Show, Hanukkah Gelt drop from a Barrie Fire Truck, crafts for kids, traditional sufganiyot (Jelly filled donuts), and hot potato latkes.

Complimentary Hanukkah menorahs and candles will also be distributed for participants to light at home.

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