Two months since the attack in Israel that initiated the start of the war abroad, Jewish residents back in the Denver area felt a different kind of weight while they celebrated the first night of.
"Now more than ever, we want people to come out and celebrate and be proud of their heritage," said Rabbi Benjy Brackman of the Chabad of Northwest Metro Denver in Westminster.
CBS News Colorado was in Arvada as the Jewish community and supporters watched the first lighting of the menorah, kicking off the start of the eight-day holiday.
"I'm going to be a proud Jew and speak up and show up and it's all I can do," said Lori, a Jewish resident.
Yet, the crowd looked a lot different than in years past. Normally, 50 to 100 people attend Arvada's menorah lighting, but this year the crowd was a lot smaller.
"Not just because of what happened in Israel, but at home too Jewish people are feeling under attack," said Brackman.
While Arvada Police were on site during the event, organizers and even some residents still believe ongoing fear among the Jewish community played a role in the low attendance.
"I have spoken with people who said they're fearful of putting decorations up this year, which is sad. I didn't think in 2023 this would be happening," said Lori.
"It break my heart to hear her say that because I'm proud of her for being here and taking the courage to come out," said Kat, who came to support her Jewish friend.
Despite concerns over a recent rise in antisemitism in the United States since the war began, others saw tonight's menorah lighting as an opportunity to shed a positive light amid hate.
"I think in a way, the way Jewish people are feeling internally a lot of people feel that way. A lot of people need more light in their lives," said Brackman.
Brackman hopes this holiday can also serve as a message that shedding light, peace and positivity does not stop after Hanukkah ends.
"Don't wait for someone to kindle your life, be a kindle to someone else's life, and when you bring happiness and joy and life to somebody else it will make your life shine even brighter," said Brackman.
People in attendance say in celebrating the first night of Hannukah tonight, they also recognize a need for the senseless violence of innocent lives in Israel and Gaza to end.
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