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First night of Hanukkah becomes symbol of hope in Boston

Boston menorah lighting comes at difficult time for Jewish community
Boston menorah lighting comes at difficult time for Jewish community 02:35

BOSTON -- It's a first night of Hanukkah unlike any in recent memory. The celebrations are happening across the region, yet for the Jewish community, many of their minds remain on the Israel-Hamas war.

"How much more so this year, this message is relevant and meaningful," said Rabbi Chaim Prus, regional director at the Chabad House of Greater Boston. "That is why the holiday is with lights, representing the concept that goodness and kindness always will eventually win over cruelty and oppression."

The candles on the menorah are an expression of the holiday, even if some Jewish Americans are nervous about expressing themselves in public.

Boston's menorah was lit on Dec. 7, the first night of Hanukkah. CBS Boston

"I think 100% yes. I think that many people now that wear the Star of David put it in their shirt now or many people while they're walking around campus they don't really talk about that they're Jewish anymore because they are scared of their response," said Natanel Rahmani, a student at Boston University.

Rahmani has seen the war protests happening on campuses throughout the city. However, he hopes the Festival of Lights will help people see the light.

"There's definitely been many conversations with people not sure what to do. Many people - their parents,  grandparents from home - telling us, 'Be careful with who you are because, these days, you aren't accepted anymore,'" said Rahmani. "If everyone is proud about all of their differences and cultures and traditions, it will be an amazing world we live in. People should be proud to say who they are and to say, 'I am Jewish. I am proud.'"

Rabbi Prus encourages the Jewish community to stand up for the religious freedoms that are present in the United States.

"The miracle of Hanukkah - we talk about a small band of Jews who stood against the superpower of the time, which was Greek-Syrian superpower," says Rabbi Prus, "Obviously whatever needs precautions and safety should, but that does not mean to say that we are hiding or giving up or afraid."

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