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'We're not alone': Jewish communities garner support from non-Jewish people during Hanukkah


Several initiatives in Winnipeg are helping gain support from non-Jewish people for Jewish communities this Hanukkah season. These efforts include Project Menorah and the Menorah Mobile that aim to bring light in times of darkness.

“The idea of garnering support from the general community for Jews across the world, obviously, with the troubling times,” said Jon Waldman, a Jewish community member in Winnipeg. Waldman is spearheading the Project Menorah campaign, which began in Israel and encourages non-Jewish families to display a Menorah in their windowsills to bring comfort to their Jewish counterparts.

“There are some people who are frightened to put out their Hanukkah symbols in their yards or their Hanukkah lights,” said Rena Secter Elbaze, the executive director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek. “When people who aren't Jewish put out a menorah or add that some kind of a Hanukkah decoration, it makes us feel like we're not alone.”

According to Elbaze, antisemitism is on the rise due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. She said shows of support are needed now more than ever.

“To know that other people are thinking of us and wanting to make us feel supported is huge,” Elbaze said.

Marli Sakiyama and her family aren’t Jewish, but this year, they decided to light a Menorah in their windowsill after seeing Waldman’s social media callouts.

“My son made matzah balls and my daughter helped with the latkes,” Sakiyama said. She even sang the lighting of the first candle prayer.

“I was practicing my Hebrew so it was obviously not the best pronunciation,” Sakiyama said. “But I tried my best.”

The effort and support is also noticed by rabbis at the Jewish Learning Centre, home of the Menorah Mobile. It began driving through neighbourhoods during the pandemic, but has returned to the roads this year due to popular demand.

“There’s the music going through the streets, publicizing and showing that we’re proud to be Jewish,” said Rabbi Avrohom Altein, director of the Jewish Learning Centre.

“The response has been really amazing with people waving at us, dancing in the windows, dancing in the doorways,” said Rabbi Boruch Heidingsfeld with the Jewish Learning Centre.

Initiatives like Project Menorah and Menorah Mobile are welcomed by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, who says they embody the spirit of Hanukkah by bringing light and hope to the community.

“It just shows the goodness of people in our community that want to do good for everyone and be supportive of others,” said Jewish Federation CEO Jeff Lieberman.

For those looking to participate in Project Menorah, they can visit the organization’s website and download a free printable menorah to display in their own windowsill. Top Stories

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