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Jewish communities in Mass. light menorahs to send a message of hope on first night of Hanukkah

First night of Hanukkah offers hope, light in Mass.
First night of Hanukkah offers hope, light in Mass. 02:34

BROOKLINE- From Boston to Brookline, Newton and all over Massachusetts, the message on the first night of Hanukkah is that the Jewish community will not be afraid to show pride in its identity, even in the face of adversity and rising tensions.

Finding the light in a world of darkness can be difficult, but the light on the first day of Hanukkah offers hope.

"It's a hope. We can't lose hope because that would be terrible," said Susan Milstein in Brookline.

This year, the first day of Hanukkah arrived exactly two months since an act of terrorism shook Israel and the Jewish community.

That's why placing the menorah where it can be seen - outside the Congregation Kehillath Israel was more important than ever.

Rabbi Bill Hamilton from Congregation Kehillath Israel lit the menorah on Harvard Street in Brookline to mark Hanukkah's first night. CBS Boston

"The last two months, which have been so dark and so difficult," said Rabbi Bill Hamilton from Congregation Kehillath Israel. "We're also putting it out on Harvard Street in the public because we're indicating that we're not afraid."

As the Israel-Hamas war rages on, with a mounting death toll and hostages still in captivity, the tensions and the antisemitism at home are overwhelming.

For the first time, Brookline police stood close by.

"I hope for peace and the war to be over as soon as possible, for the hostages to be released, and just this country getting back to what it should be and what it is," said Milstein.

In Boston, the 40-year tradition is staying strong as Governor Maura Healey joined the lighting of the towering menorah at The Common.

Even in celebrating the festival of lights, there is heightened awareness of the extra police presence.

"I have a lot of faith in the Boston Police and the law enforcement that we have across Massachusetts," said one man who came out for the menorah lighting. "They've demonstrated time and time again their dedication to keeping our community and all faith communities safe."

And for the next eight days, the focus will be on shining the light that extinguishes the darkness.

"Instead of just focusing on the negativity, how do we add a light? How are we adding goodness? What can we do?" said Rabbi Yosef Zacklos, of Chabad of Downtown Boston.

Just this week, the FBI Director, Department of Justice and Homeland Security urged faith communities to be extra vigilant when celebrating this holiday season, especially at places of worship.

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