‘We are not afraid’: Security not a concern for crowd gathered for lighting of menorah downtown

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — On the first day of Hanukkah, crowds gathered at Washington Square Park in Rochester to celebrate the lighting of the menorah, hours after shots were fired at Temple Israel in Albany.

Attendees like Rabbi Yossi Vogeo said they planned on showing up no matter what.

“Display Jewish pride. That’s the most important thing. That really shows we are not afraid and nothing, nothing bad can happen,” Vogeo said.

It’s what Vogeo said made being at this year’s lighting of the menorah so special this year.

“The main thing is to display and show that we are not afraid and that way it will not only, it will cause respect,” Vogeo said.

According to Governor Kathy Hochul, shots were fired at the Temple Israel, but thankfully no one was injured or killed.

“So here Is my commitment to Jewish New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated into silence. We will not be threatened into submission, and we will celebrate every aspect of Jewish traditions, starting here with Hanukkah,” Hochul said.

The celebration at Washington Square Park brought out locals and people from across the country, like Reari Warsawski from Boston.

“I’m here traveling for work and, ya know, being the first night of Hanukkah. My entire family and friends are celebrating back at home and, ya know, I came across this. This is my first time,” Warsawski said.

It’s a night Warsawski said he will always remember, not because of any increased security presence, but because of the spirit that flows from the first day of Hanukkah.

“Looking around at the amount of security they have in this small square, I feel safe. This is who I am. This is where I came from and just having this opportunity put on the Chabad to be here in Rochester and kind of remember who I am. This is really a great opportunity for us,” Warsawski said.