LIBERTY TWP., Ohio — Just one night after five people were stabbed at a Hanukkah celebration in New York, local members of the Jewish community gathered in Liberty Township to celebrate the final day of Hanukkah and promote a message of peace.
More than 200 people gathered at Liberty Center to stand together and light the community menorah.
"The message of Hanukkah is all about a little bit of light illuminating much darkness," said Rabbi Yosef Kalmanson, director of the Jewish Discovery Center. "So we fight evil with good."
Kalmanson said the attack in New York against a group of Jews celebrating Hanukkah Saturday is horrific, but it didn't stop children and families from coming together to celebrate the holiday.
Non-Jewish neighbors of the community also came out for the celebration to hand out candy and show support for their Jewish neighbors.
"They really feel that they want to support us considering what we're going through," said Kalmanson. "But even if we had not gone through this, they really want to show their support and really come together as a community."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Saturday that the evening's attack is the 13th act of anti-Semitism in the state in the past three weeks. The issue also hits home for the Greater Cincinnati area, after a study released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Cincinnati had the highest number of hate crimes per capita of any city in the state of Ohio in 2018.
But for Kalmanson and the hundreds of people gathered at Liberty Center for the last day of Hanukkah, these events only reinforce their resolve to share a message of peace and strong community.
"As Jews, our response to that is we're going to kind of overpower that by the actions, the good actions that we take to make a difference in the world around us," said Kalmanson. "The good things that we do, the random acts of goodness and kindness that we do with each other, that in effect pushes back the negativity and the evil."