Hanukkah in Tucson begins with the lighting of the Menorah

Hanukkah in Tucson begins with the lighting of the Menorah

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Millions of people all over the world are coming together to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas this weekend. While the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are urging law enforcement to be on high alert– after ISIS issued an online call for attacks against U.S. churches.

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El off of Country Club in Tucson said they're being cautious but won't let the ISIS threat stop their celebration of Hanukkah.

Folks bundled up and braved the cold and rain on Saturday night to gather around the Menorah outside Temple Emanu-El, singing songs to celebrate the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

"It lit the first time which was excellent considering the pouring rain and we had some really cute little ones who were dancing around," Wendy Cohon said.

Rabbi Cohon used a torch to light the Menorah as an affirmation of religious freedom. It celebrates a miracle following a revolt by the Jews against foreign rule, over 2,000 years ago. The Jews had to keep the Menorah burning at all times, but there was only enough sacred olive oil to last one night.

"One day in the Menorah in Jerusalem instead lasted for all eight nights - the eight nights it took to collect more oil and bring it and celebrate Hanukkah," Rabbi Cohon said.

Rabbi Cohon says the timing of the threat from ISIS is troubling.

"To make this kind of a statement in the name of religion is a shame. It's a tragedy. It's bad for all religious people and we need to understand that," Rabbi Cohon said.

The FBI is tracking the threat's credibility saying "we continue to work closely with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners should there be any potential threat to public safety."

Tucson News Now reached out to Tucson Police to see if they're increasing patrols around churches this holiday weekend. They said they constantly monitor any threat and adjust resources accordingly.

The Menorah will be lit every night of Hanukkah at Temple Emanu-El at 5:30 ending on December 31st.

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