Evanston menorah lighting calls for release of hostages held by Hamas

Members of the Chabad of Evanston celebrated Hanukkah around the menorah on Sunday afternoon. They lit another candle on a giant menorah, representing a big effort this year.

"Our giant menorah is here to tell the world that our light will continue to grow and continue to shine," said Rabbi Meir Hecht of Evanston.

One hundred and thirty hostages remain in the hands of Hamas. Rabbi Hecht says he knows the power of prayer, since prayer is what brought their congregants, Judith and her daughter Natalie Raanan, home from Hamas captivity.

"We are in contact with them, and they want their privacy, and they are healing, and we are praying for them, and we’re at their side through this process," said Rabbi Hecht.

On the fourth night of Hanukkah, they lit the menorah and danced around, focusing on the good.

"I want people to feel inspired. I want people to feel invigorated, that they have the energy and strength to not be fearful in any way," said Rabbi Hecht.

Maayan Hilel is an Israeli living in Chicagoland. She brought her children to participate in the tradition and help the cause.

"It's very powerful and very much needed, especially for this day when there is also a rise in antisemitism. So it is very empowering to be together with the candles and send wishes to those who are being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza," said Hilel.

Rabbi Hecht says this Hanukkah will go down in history as Jews everywhere show their unwavering strength.

"Hanukkah is the time when we shine our light. We tell the world that we will not cower to fear or terror. Our light shines through the darkest moments. And we know that our prayers were answered at a very hard and dark time for our dear congregants, friends and neighbors … so we will continue to pray and shine light and give off the message of goodness and kindness to the world through the light of Hanukkah and pray that the rest of the hostages get released," he said.