GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Sunday marked the beginning of Hanukkah for the Jewish community.

One local synagogue observed the day with a Menorah lighting. Both Jewish and community leaders lit the Menorah candle as a sign of growth and expansion of a miracle that Hanukkah celebrates.

“2,200 years ago, an evil tyrant from the Greek Empire wanted to wipe out the Judeans in Judaism as it existed, because that tyrant was afraid that Jews would not worship him as God because instead, we worship the values that God actually teaches us. This small group of Jews called the Maccabees, led by a man named Judah stood up against that tyrant,” said Rabbi Harley Karz-Wagman, rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom.

The traditional Menorah lighting celebrates a Jewish group known as the Maccabees and their eventual triumph of overcoming impossible odds in their battle against the Greeks.

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Jews commemorate the miracle by lighting the Menorah and focusing on unity in the midst of antisemitism against Jews today.

“It shouldn’t just be Jews who speak about antisemitism, Blacks who speak about racism, gays and lesbians who speak about crimes against LGBT,” said Harley. “It should be everybody else, their allies speaking out for the people who are victimized by hatred, and we need to speak not with counter hatred. But speak with love.”

Harley said in the midst of hate crimes toward the Jewish community, his congregation learns about love and respect toward all.

“We talk about antisemitism in our community. Of course, we also talked about effective ways to stop it. One of the keys is all of the alliances we have built because we don’t just speak against antisemitism, we speak against all forms of bigotry. And that’s the key,” said Harley.

He added the great thing about Pitt County is the number of people coming together from all types of leaders and other forms of religion to support them.