Healey invokes ‘love and support’ for Jewish community

Gov. Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joined Jewish leaders in ascending the 22-foot menorah on the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday.

Gov. Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joined Jewish leaders in ascending the 22-foot menorah on the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday. STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

By Alison Kuznitz

State House News Service

Published: 12-10-2023 4:00 PM

BOSTON — Denouncing the scourge of hate fueled by the Israel-Hamas war, elected officials including Gov. Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu stood in solidarity with the Jewish community for the first night of Hanukkah, and helped to bring a spark of light to Boston Common.

Joining Jewish leaders, Healey and Wu were lifted above the crowd for the kindling of a 22-foot menorah for the 40th annual celebration organized by Chabad of Downtown Boston.

Healey noted how the placement of the menorah lit a path toward the State House, saying it “bears witness to the strength, and the vitality, and the vibrancy, and of belonging of the Jewish people in Massachusetts.”

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In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ongoing war in Gaza, Healey said this year’s gathering for Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, was particularly crucial.

“It’s also important that we stand up for what is right and what is just — standing against genocide, standing against antisemitism, standing against those who wish to visit pain on others because of their religion, their gender, their identity,” Healey said, as she called on people to express their “love and support and our valuing” of the Jewish community.

Healey added, “In this Hanukkah season, I want to make clear as governor that we are grateful to the Jewish community, we cherish the Jewish community, and we celebrate the Jewish community.”

The Hanukkah story is a reminder of Jewish identity and pride, said Robert Trestan, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s west division.

“We need to be proud to be Jewish, we need to be proud to support Israel, we need to be proud to support a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people, and we need to do all of that publicly,” Trestan said. “We should not be intimidated — we should be doing it publicly.”

Invoking the violence and divisiveness across the globe, Wu stressed the importance of people gathering and fostering community connections.

“It is important and necessary that this annual tradition is part of how we in Boston and Greater Boston come together every single Hanukkah,” Wu said. “That in this space, it is important not only to make sure that the Jewish community and faith is visible, and prominent, and celebrated in one of our most historic places in the country, but Boston Common is also a reminder to all of us of the very earliest decisions that we [made], even before being a commonwealth, it is the ways in which we are connected to each other, and we chose to come together for the common good.”

Rabbi Marc Baker, president and CEO of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, reflected on Hanukkah’s themes of resilience, strength and hope, much-needed during what he described as the Jewish people’s “most challenging time of our lifetimes.”

“Thanks everyone for being here, and especially to our elected officials — you have no idea how much it means to have you standing with us tonight,” Baker said.

Alluding to the Hanukkah miracle of the oil in the Temple lasting for eight days, Baker added, “Lighting these Hanukkah candles in this public space, in the heart of downtown Boston, is a miracle.”