Menorah lighting at Kiener Plaza carries new meaning for St. Louis Jewish community

ST. LOUIS – The Jewish community in St. Louis honored the start of Hannukah on Thursday by lighting the menorah at Kiener Plaza.

As the war between Israel and Hamas persists, this year’s celebration of Hannukah holds more meaning for some.

“It’s a peaceful celebration in America where we have a right to celebrate our religious freedoms and that’s unique to the world, and it’s wonderful,” said Mark Cantor, a Staenberg Menorah Sponsor.

“The hate is the darkness. There is something about light that invariably, always defeats the darkness,” said Rabbi Yosef Landa. “Celebrating a festival of light is the best message. Goodness and light and truth will prevail. ”

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Despite the hostile attacks taking place in Israel, Jewish Americans are still celebrating through Hanukkah traditions.

“We started it this evening,” said Robin Rickerman. “I had a get-together with some girlfriends at my house, and we lit menorahs each singularly. We had donuts. We had potato latkes and we’re going home for chili afterwards.”

There has been up to nearly a 400 percent increase of antisemitic incidents since the October 7th attack. Some Jewish celebratory events, like the Menorah lighting, have been moved inside or canceled.

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The Jewish community in St. Louis says it’s important to stand strong and proud.

“The best antidote to the haters is more jewishness, more celebration, more pride and more joy. That’s the best answer,” said Landa.

The 29-foot menorah located in Downtown St. Louis is called the Staenberg Menorah because the installation was funded by local philanthropist Michael Staenberg. The menorah is only 5 feet shorter than the world’s largest menorah, which is located in Manhattan, New York.

“33 lights. Bout 200 feet of trust. Bout 135 bolts. The base weighs about 15,000 pounds. It’s free-standing. It’s the tallest Menorah west of the Mississippi,” said Dave Cooper.

To find out more about Hanukkah celebrations and events in the St. Louis area, click here.

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