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'Larger-than-usual' crowd expected at local Hanukkah gatherings

Chabad Jewish Centre organizing public menorah-lighting event at Barrie City Hall on Thursday night
Rabbi Mendel Nakkar, who directs Chabad Jewish Centre of Barrie, lights the candles on a nine-foot menorah in 2022.

This Hanukkah, Barrie’s seeing a surge in families’ public displays of the holiday and Jewish identity, with many more individuals planning to light their menorahs in visible places, such as their doors or windows.

Barrie’s public Hanukkah gatherings expect a larger than usual crowd this year in a strong statement of Jewish pride and confidence.

It’s a fraught time for the Jewish people, with war in Israel and North American Jews facing a major rise in antisemitism.

In the past, prior to Oct. 7, many Jews’ response to frightening developments of antisemitism may have been to hide their Jewishness, the post-Oct. 7 Jewish communal response has bucked all precedents. Jews are choosing instead to celebrate their identity this Hanukkah with more confidence and resolve.

Chabad Jewish Centre is organizing a public Hanukkah menorah-lighting event with a massive nine-foot menorah at city hall on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The event will feature an array of entertainment for all ages including Gelt Drop and parachuting dreidels from a fire truck, Chanukah photo booth, face painting and balloon twisting artists, crafts for kids, raffles and prizes, as well as hot drinks and a selection of traditional Hanukkah foods.

This event is free of charge and all are welcome to join. Participants are encouraged to contribute to an ongoing matching fundraising campaign for the Chabad Jewish Centre at

The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, launched the Hanukkah awareness campaign 50 years ago, in 1973 – in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War in Israel, and in the half-century since, the 'Festival of Lights' has revitalized widespread observance of Hanukkah and brought it to the mainstream.

The menorah, and indeed Hanukkah – with its universal message of freedom of the human spirit, freedom from tyranny and oppression, and of the ultimate victory of good over evil – has as a result become a part of North American culture.

“The Rebbe taught that not only is celebrating Hanukkah a vital part of Jewish life – where it has become a potent point of light and Jewish pride and confidence for North American Jews in the fight against darkness and antisemitism – but also represents key Western values, namely those of liberty and independence.” said Rabbi Nakkar. “The holiday of Hanukkah underscores the fact that Western culture has been enriched by the thriving ethnic cultures which contributed very much, each in its own way, to communal life, both materially and spiritually.”