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Rabbi affixes community support on giant Hanukkah menorah

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Andy Koren posts messages on menorah

Greensboro’s Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Andy Koren posts messages on the temple's Hanukkah menorah.

Given the disturbing rise of antisemitism (hatred of Jews) in the United States and around the world, Greensboro’s Temple Emanuel Senior Rabbi Andy Koren said he was inspired with a bright idea of extending Hanukkah’s eight-day Festival of Lights to the greater community for radiant light over darkness.

“About a week or so ago, I heard that the campus Hillel at Queens University in Charlotte had asked other campus groups to send special messages which Hillel mounted onto their Hanukkiah, the menorah. I think that this was connected to promoting campus diversity,” he said, explaining, “I thought about that for a moment. We have a large outdoor Hanukkah menorah. What would it be like if other religious communities sent us messages of support?”

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They have and the rabbi has mounted a message of interreligious support every night on one of the area’s largest Hanukkah menorahs. “I sent email requests to other religious leaders. Within minutes, I got their responses. We have enough messages to post one to each branch of the Hanukkah menorah each night. At this point, we may have to put multiple messages on each night,” the rabbi said.

On the first night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Koren read some of the messages to families attending the Temple’s Hanukkah party.

“My request is for friends of the Jewish community to photograph the menorah and share the brightness far and wide on social media, especially now when our world wants light and hope,” he said. When we need that light and that hope ... sometimes we need to look no farther than the light that has been there, for as long as we can remember. That light that reflects from our neighbors who care. The light that we need to see, to remember, that the work to oppose bigotry and hatred continues. That it is not just me, it is not just you ... it is all of us. And it is God’s will.”

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