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Montreal's Jewish community prepares for Hanukkah amid sadness

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Hanukkah begins Thursday at sundown, and the Jewish community is preparing.

With the Israel-Hamas war raging on, this year's"Festival of Lights" is stained with sadness.

"We will celebrate Hanukkah starting the night of December 7th exactly two months to the date of the atrocities committed against the Jewish people in Israel by Hamas," said B'nai Brith Quebec regional director Henry Topas.

At Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, posters of the faces of the hostages are always on display and on everyone's mind.

"The message of Hanukkah has always been one of hope, one of hoping for the impossible, or certainly the improbable; a notion of perseverance when times are dark," said Rabbi Lisa Grushcow.

At Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom in Montreal, posters of the faces of the hostages are always on display and on everyone's mind. (Christine Long/CTV News)

Times are dark, but Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Israel Beth Aaron Congregation says the Menorahs won't be.

"When you're confronted with this kind of adversity it brings out the best in people," he said. "Most Jews I know are certainly taking steps to be more assertive than usual in demonstrating their loyalty in the commitment to Jewish life. the Menorahs will go up like before - maybe even more so."

"In Jewish teaching there's this idea that if a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet each other in the road, that the funeral gives way for the wedding," said Grushcow. "That you always have to make space for celebration, you always have to make space for joy, you always have to make space for hope. It's not a betrayal of suffering, it's a recognition of the fullness of life."

Part of that fullness of life is giving a holiday greeting, she added.

"Saying Happy Hanukkah is a wonderful thing because it lets us know that we're seen," said Grushcow. "So many people in the Jewish community have felt isolated over these past weeks, felt very alone." 

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