New Carlisle plans to light a Hanukkah menorah tonight during its tree lighting ceremony to honor those killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
The menorah will be lit before the city’s Christmas tree lighting Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in downtown New Carlisle.
“Right now is a time full of darkness and hate and it’s only appropriate we spread joy and light to all communities and all people of different faiths,” New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds said.
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This will be the fourth year New Carlisle has lit a Christmas tree downtown, reviving a tradition that ended in the 1990s. This is the first time the city will also light a menorah.
In October, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and opened fire. Eleven people were killed and six were injured before the gunman was arrested.
Lighting the menorah is a way to remember the victims and to support those impacted by the tragedy, Reynolds said.
“We are standing with the people of the Jewish faith,” Reynolds said. “When we light our tree to bring joy and peace and faith we will also celebrate Hanukkah. It’s about having light to stamp out intolerance and hatred.”
Rabbi Ari Ballaban, with Temple Beth Or in Dayton, will light the menorah at the event. He said the city’s gesture means a lot.
“It takes all individuals standing up together to make a difference,” Ballaban said. “It means a lot to see something like this happen.”
It’s been a tough time for the Jewish community, Ballaban said. He said recent studies show anti-Semitic incidents are happening more often.
An FBI report released in November said there was a 23 percent increase in hate crimes against religious groups this year with 900 incidents targeting Jews and Jewish institutions.
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“The last few years for a lot of people in the Jewish community in the United States have been a challenging time,” he said. “For a lot of Jewish people, it’s really a new experience to feel that level of antipathy towards Jews.”
Ballaban will travel to the event via fire truck with Reynolds, he said. When he arrives at the event he will first explain the significance of the menorah and Hanukkah to the crowd and then he will light the menorah.
Saturday is the seventh day of the eight day Hanukkah celebration.
Ballaban said he is bringing a menorah from a Dayton synagogue but will have to return it after the event so it won’t remain on display. The Christmas tree will be on display throughout the holiday season.
The event grows every year, Reynolds said. When the city relaunched the yearly tradition four years ago only about 25 people showed up. Last year they had about 75. Reynolds hopes it keeps growing.
“It has built each year. This year we will have free candy canes and hot chocolate while supplies last,” Reynolds said. “Santa and Mrs. Clause will be there. Also, the Tecumseh choir will be performing Christmas carols.”