Tuesday, January 31st | 10 Shevat 5783

November 30, 2021 1:56 pm

Thousands Gather in Times Square to ‘Shine A Light on Antisemitism’ This Hanukkah


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Attendees of the “Shine A Light on Antisemitism” event in Times Square. Photo: Michael Priest Photography

Elected officials from New York, musicians, and community leaders joined thousands of others on Monday night to draw attention to the rise of antisemitism at a Hanukkah menorah lighting in Times Square.

The gathering was part of the national “Shine A Light on Antisemitism” initiative, which aims to raise awareness and action about antisemitism through education, community partnerships, workplace engagement, and advocacy during the eight-day Jewish festival.

Monday night’s ceremony, which took place on the second night of Hanukkah, was hosted by Eboni K. Williams, an attorney, journalist, and star of “The Real Housewives of New York.” The Maccabeats a cappella group performed, along with David Broza, the Christian Cultural Center Choir, and surprise guest Matisyahu. Synchronized displays celebrating Hanukkah were also shown on the surrounding billboards.

The event was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and UJA-Federation of New York, in collaboration with the New York Board of Rabbis and local branches of the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee.

Joseph Borgen, who faced an antisemitic attack in Times Square while returning from a pro-Israel rally in May, was invited to light the menorah’s first candle.

“The attack on me was no isolated incident,” he told the crowd. “From deadly attacks in Pittsburgh to Poway to Jersey City — to Nazi symbolism and vicious anti-Israel hate on campus — antisemitism is increasing to record levels. We’re here today, together with tens of thousands of people across the country, to shine a light on antisemitism and the miracle light of Hanukkah, the light that says Jews will not stand by.”

Holocaust survivors and New York residents Jehuda and Leah Evron lit the menorah’s second candle. Eric Goldstein, head of the UJA-Federation of New York, called Borgen and the Evrons “searing proof of why it’s so important to speak up and unite against antisemitism and hate.”

“Particularly during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrating freedom over hate and oppression, we’re reminded of the power of even a small light to raise awareness and help dispel hatred in all its forms,” he added.

New York Attorney General Letitia James expressed the importance of standing “shoulder to shoulder” against hate.

“As an African American woman, I stand with the Jewish community now and forever,” she said. “Hanukkah is about the triumph of light over darkness, and we all have a duty to come together and put an end to the darkness of antisemitism for good.”

Others attendees included New York Gov. Kathy Hochul; Israel Nitzan, deputy consul general of Israel in New York; New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli; and New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

More than 60 American and Canadian Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and corporations are participating in the “Shine A Light” campaign. As part of the initiative, iconic buildings across the country will light up yellow — the color of candlelight and a symbol of Hanukkah — from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6.

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