In Oak Park, a gesture of unity came just in time for Hanukkah (or Chanukah), which ran Dec. 2-10. Community leaders gathered at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St., on Dec. 9 to mark the installation of a giant “Unity Peace Menorah” inside the public library.

The menorah is a response to recent anti-Semitic incidents at Oak Park and River Forest High School, which include graffiti and digital messages featuring swastikas.

 “We are reaching out to the entire community to join us in this effort of creating unity,” Rabbi Yitzchok Bergstein, director of the Chabad Center, said in a statement released last week. “The story of Chanukah has an eternal message, one that resonates for all cultures, all religions at all times — ‘Light will always prevail over the forces of darkness’.”

Bergstein explained that Chanukah “celebrates the victory of a small band of Jewish warriors over the mighty Syrian-Greek army who tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing the practice of all Jewish law.”

Bergstein explained that the holiday, along with the lighting of the menorah, “contain messages that are highlighted by the freedoms we are blessed to have in this country allowing us to freely and openly express our beliefs.

“The lights of the menorah emphasize the idiom that ‘a small little flame can dispel much darkness’ that the way to combat hatred, bigotry and intolerance is by increasing in acts of goodness, kindness, love and compassion.”

Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb was among the attendees at Sunday’s commemoration. On Dec. 10, a group of students from The Children’s School, who created 100 tiles for the display, walked to the library to bask in the light.


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