Jewish community honors synagogue shooting victims during menorah lighting

RAPID CITY, S.D. – A Jewish community, strong in spirit and in person, celebrated the first day of Hanukkah.

Jewish celebrants braved the elements to commemorate the beginning of Hanukkah with the Community Menorah Lighting at Main Street Square on Sunday.

People gathered around a large menorah and sang religious songs of prayer before lighting the shamash and first candle of Hanukkah.

The holiday honors the rededication of Jerusalem’s Second Temple after its desecration by Greek king Antiochus Epiphanies in 167 B.C.E.

Lay leader and Synagogue of the Hills President Steven Benn said that, despite a biting chill in the air, the local Jewish community remained resilient.

“The fact that we did all come out … a large number of us, on this bitterly cold night to celebrate this holiday really speaks to the strength of the community,” Benn said.

With the memory of the October Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh still fresh on the minds of Jewish congregations everywhere, people took the time to remember the eleven lives lost.

“There are the names and the faces of each and everyone of those individuals inscribed – indelibly etched – in the candles,” Benn added. “In my house, when we light candles, this will be a preeminent thought.”

A plaque on the menorah also honors a large Jewish contingency within the 28th Bomb Wing who served during the Cold War.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News