Jewish community members and the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass welcomed Gov. Andy Beshear to Lexington’s Triangle Park Sunday night to light the fourth candle of the menorah in a public Hanukkah celebration.
The Jewish community gathered downtown Sunday to celebrate Hanukkah and to bring attention to rising antisemitism amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
“Illuminating the fourth candle tonight lets us reflect upon this symbolism of light dispelling darkness and igniting hope in these challenging times,” said Mindy Haas, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass.
She said the evening was about celebrating Hanukkah, but onlookers needed to be mindful of the responsibility to confront and overcome the “shadows of antisemitism.”
“We should denounce all forms of antisemitism and hatred, pushing those who express such sentiments to the fringes of our society,” Haas said. “When we come together, America will be a safer place not only for the Jews, but for everyone.”
Beshear had a plain statement to the crowd: hatred and bigotry have no place in the state of Kentucky among any group.
The governor has attended the lighting celebration each year, but said this year feels different due to the war between Israel and Hamas which started when Hamas launched an attack on Israel Oct. 7.
“On Thursday, we lit the state’s menorah in the Capitol Rotunda and it continues to be lit there each and every night because we wanted to make one message loud and clear in the commonwealth: we will not tolerate hate of any form,” Beshear said Sunday.
Beshear said he leaned heavily on faith during his last four years as governor, being in office during historic weather events, mass shootings, and combating the COVID-19 pandemic. He said people of any faith have the right to practice freely, and should feel safe in doing so.
“In a world of such difficulty and violence of a society that seems to be in the grips of pessimism, it’s a wonderful reminder that we cannot meet hate with hate,” Beshear said. “We have to meet it with love. we cannot meet anger with anger. We have to meet it with compassion.
“Ultimately we have to approach every single challenge we face with the type of empathy that while we might not always be able to understand each other, we can truly love one another, stand up for each other and ensure we can call Kentucky our home and be the very best place to live.”
The Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass has made yard signs available that are meant to raise awareness to antisemitism. The organization has urged community members who reserve yard signs to display them throughout the month of December.
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