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Local leaders come together to commemorate Hanukkah, take stand against hate

SALT LAKE CITY As Hanukkah nears its end, local leaders gathered in Salt Lake City to raise awareness and understanding of multiple minority groups.

They told KSL they wanted to take a stand against the darkness of hate by coming together Sunday night to bring light into the world.

From a children’s choir — The Rise Up Children’s Choir — at the Congregation Kol Ami, to a car parade featuring an enormous Menorah, Jewish congregations across the state are celebrating the last night of Hanukkah.

Rabbi Benny Zippel of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah said this is the car parade’s second year and it’s a growing tradition.

“We want to awaken people and make people aware of what it means to be Jewish. To take pride in being Jewish and sharing the beauty of our heritage with all our neighbors — Jewish and not — around us,” said Zippel.

Earlier Sunday evening, the Congregation Kol Ami commemorated the holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, with a special service to “Shine A Light on Anti-Semitism and Hate.”

“We are here today as many different communities to say that anti-Semitism and any form of hatred and xenophobia/bigotry are not part of our religion or the values of our community here in Utah,” said Rabbi Samuel Spector of the Congregation Kol Ami.

To celebrate with the Congregation Kol Ami, representatives of the Mexican Consulate, Equality Utah, and Utah Muslim Civic League also shared messages about unity and took part in lighting the Menorah.

“The Jewish community is very dear to our heart as Muslims here. We constantly feel we have more in common than not,” said Luna Banuri, executive director of the Utah Muslim Civic League.

According to the FBI’s 2020 report on hate crimes and incidents, 61.8% of victims nationwide were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.

It’s why the United Jewish Federation of Utah said Sunday night was about shedding light on our common values.

“For us to be able to come together and say our hatred of hate is what brings us together and our love of one another is what brings us together, that creates a profound light, and it makes me believe that tomorrow can be so much better than today,” said Spector.

Hanukkah lasts eight days.

It ends Monday, Dec. 6, at sunset.

“Do one more mitzvah — one more good deed. Give a smile to someone who you don’t feel like giving to, just to make this world a better and happier place,” said Zippel.

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