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'Community menorah' now on display at Cincinnati City Hall

Mayor Pureval lights the center candle of a menorah outside City Hall using a tiki torch.
Bill Rinehart
Mayor Pureval lights the center candle of a menorah outside City Hall using a tiki torch on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.

Cincinnati's City Hall now has a dedicated menorah inside. The Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council marked the start of Hanukkah Monday afternoon. Former Jewish Federation Chair Gary Greenburg says the dedication comes at an important time, as anti-Semitism is on the rise.

"This simple menorah … is a visual reminder that we, Jews, continue to have a place at the table. And this is more important, especially important now, in today's climate."

Greenburg says the Federation has responded to several anti-Semitic incidents in the area, including flyers featuring swastikas distributed on the campus of Miami University, and Nazi slogans and imagery circulated in local schools.

He says he would like to see more religious and cultural symbols included next to the menorah and the tree.

Greenburg says symbols matter. "This is our City Hall. This City Hall is a quite impressive symbol of government and American democracy," he says. "And right across the street, as the mayor pointed out, is Plum Street Temple, one of the oldest synagogues in the country. Its location in the heart of Cincinnati is not an accident. It is a demonstration of our city's commitment to inclusion."

Greenburg says having the menorah on display inside City Hall shows the voices of the Jewish community are important and included in daily life.

An electric menorah on the right side of the photo sits outside City Hall before being taken inside for its placement next to a holiday tree.
Bill Rinehart
The electric menorah on the right of the City Hall steps is the one that will be on display inside.

The Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council read from the dedication plaque. Rabbi Ari Ballaban says the menorah is for people of any, or no faith. "These lights must remind us in moments of darkness or peril, that we are all in this together," he says. "That the only thing that can stop us from treating others as our brethren is ourselves."

The dedication comes as the White House put up its first-ever menorah for display.

Hanukkah started Sunday night.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.