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Jews and Christians Team Up to Build Giant Menorah

The menorah is symbolic of a growing relationship between Jewish and Christian communities, funded in part by a Christian Zionist businessman

By: Zak Edwards
Published: November 27th, 2013 in News » World
The giant menorah in the Netherlands

Bucking recent trends in Europe, where Jews are reporting that they actively avoid Jewish gatherings for fear of harassment, a rabbi is planning on lighting a giant candle for this year’s Chanukah.

Klaas Zijlstra has spent the past few weeks building the 36-foot menorah, which will be lit today for the first day of Chanukah. But the menorah represents more than just the this year’s holiday.

“Public Hanukkah events are a recent and revolutionary development in the Netherlands,” says The Times of Israel, “Here they signify the growing self-confidence and openness of a Jewish community whose near annihilation in the Holocaust left a deeply entrenched tendency to keep a low profile.”

The menorah is also symbolic of a growing relationship between Jewish and Christian communities; it was funded in part by a Christian Zionist businessman Arjen Lont and built by Zijlstra, a metal contractor.

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs will ascend a crane and light the menorah, which can support oil and electric lightings, tonight in front of hundreds of Jews and Christians. Such an act stands in defiance of growing European anti-Semitism and the history of Jews in the Netherlands, who suffered a higher percentage of Holocaust deaths than any other part of Europe.

“After unspeakable suffering, the horrors of the Holocaust and most recently the attacks on Israel, Jews may feel they are alone,” Lont told JTA. “This is our way of saying you are not alone, we are behind you.”

There are even bigger plans for the giant menorah; organizers hope to move the six-ton object to the European Parliament steps in Brussels next year to oppose legislations that target Jewish communities, like practising circumcision.

But for now, Zijlstra and his fellow community members are happy to have the menorah up as a sign of solidarity. Director Roger Van Oort says the menorah stands as “a warning sign” against those who try and restrict Jewish worship.
Related articles: Menorah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, World News, Netherlands, Jewish News, Holidays
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