Salem to get 9 foot Menorah

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Salem to get 9 foot Menorah

4:39 p.m. PT Dec. 23, 2016

Nine feet tall, seven feet wide and weighing in at 250 pounds — Salem just got its own public menorah.

Cities across the country and world have public menorah’s displayed during Hanukkah, including one outside the White House in D.C. and the largest menorah displayed in New York.

Traditionally, menorahs are lit for the eight days of Hanukkah, which begins on Saturday this year.

“It is not about a religious symbol in a public space,” said Rabbi Avrohom Perlstein with the Salem Chabad Center for Jewish Life. “The menorah is universal.”

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that menorahs, along with Christmas trees, are “secular symbols of the winter season,” rather than endorsements of a specific faith.

For Perlstein, getting a menorah in Salem has been a six-year project.

“I didn’t want to do this without the participation of the community; I’m not a rogue Rabbi or something,” he said. “(I knew if we were approved), we’re be joining thousands of other U.S. cities.”

Mayor Anna Peterson and Mayor-elect Chuck Bennett voiced their support for the menorah this year.

Perlstein and others at the Chabad Center  worked to obtain the proper city permits and soon enough, they were on their way.

Perlstein and a group of volunteers set up the menorah Friday morning on city property at the corner of Trade and Commercial streets SE.

“It’s not just the Jewish community that can benefit,” Perlstein said. “The message (of the menorah) is one of religious freedom and victory over oppression and tyranny.”

The center will be lighting the menorah at a public event Wednesday, December 28 at 6 p.m. City councilors, the mayor and other local figures are expected to attend.

For more information, contact the Chabad Center for Jewish Life at 503-383-9569 or go online to jewishsalem.com.

 npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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