Philadelphia community celebrates first night of Hanukkah amid Israel-Hamas war

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Friday, December 8, 2023
Philadelphia community celebrates Hanukkah amid Israel-Hamas war
Philadelphia community celebrates first night of Hanukkah amid Israel-Hamas war

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Across the Delaware Valley Thursday night, people celebrated the first night of Hanukkah.

It's exactly two months since the Hamas-led attack on Israel, and that is driving more people to heed caution and stay vigilant during local celebrations.

"For this holiday we have asked our institutions if they can move their menorah lightings indoors," said Scott Kerns.

Kerns, a former FBI agent, now works for Secure Community Network which is contracted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. The Federation is responsible for almost 200 brick-and-mortar institutions.

"It's easier to restrict access. We've asked for our institutions and synagogues to ask for registration, check bags. Most of our institutions have hired additional security," said Kerns.

In Albany, New York on Thursday, a 28-year-old man was taken into custody after firing shots outside of a synagogue with a preschool inside. Authorities are investigating it as a hate crime.

In South Philadelphia, residents were focusing on the Festival of Lights and fellowship.

The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District held their annual menorah lighting Inside. Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter led the event.

"We just decided this would be a better environment to really bring the celebration," said Fruchter.

About 200 people filled the South Philadelphia Shtiebel on Juniper Street.

"Hannukah is all about spiritual resilience, especially when things are in turmoil," said Fruchter.