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Miami Beach teen encourages classmates to celebrate Hanukkah with pride

Miami Beach teen encourages classmates to celebrate Hanukkah with pride
Miami Beach teen encourages classmates to celebrate Hanukkah with pride 02:26

MIAMI - Hanukkah is the first major Jewish Holiday since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas. In the face of rising anti-Semitism, one Miami Beach teen is encouraging his classmates to celebrate with pride. 

Oliver William, 17, is a senior at Miami Beach Senior High. 

"I've heard some people are sometimes scared to represent their Judaism at our school because we don't know what could happen, where we can be in jeopardy with our future," William said, "and I understand those concerns."

While he understands the fear, he doesn't give in.

"The rise of antisemitism with the war going on I think this is the perfect opportunity, one of the biggest holidays in our Jewish culture, to celebrate the power and the magic of the eight nights of Hanukkah," William said. 

So he went to Rabbi Katz at the Chabad on Lincoln Road. 

"He says 'you know Rabbi, we got to do something for Beach High, we got  to make sure that every Jewish kid in Beach High knows about Judaism'," Rabbi Katz said. 

Katz also hears the same concerns. 

"Now with the tension in Israel, some people just call me and say, 'Rabbi, should I take my mezuzah off? Should I take my kippah off?'," he said. "The opposite."

Hannukah is just the opposite of the darkness of war. It's the Jewish holiday of lights. 

"Actually goes back to the temple in Israel, with a menorah that was built over there in a way that the menorah from the inside was lighting up the outside,: he said. "Usually when you build a house, you want to make sure the sun comes in. This was built in the opposite way, and that's really the message of Hanukkah. Me, you, and every Jew, and every human being in this world is the menorah to light up the outside world."

Rabbi Katz and William spent time inviting teens to join them in lighting the menorah on Lincoln Road on night one. 

"I aim to continue to do this throughout my life, throughout where I go to college, and throughout the trajectory of where my life takes me," William said. "I just I want to enable peace into everyone."

The shell menorah has been there on Lincoln Road for 25 years. 

They will do public lighting every night for all 8 nights, and it is open to the public. 

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