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Hanukkah celebrates light, hope, freedom

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Phillip Johnson, 13, of Rochester, puts candles in his menorah during services at Bnai Israel Synagogue in Rochester on Thursday night, the second night of Hanukkah.

As Rochester's Jewish community came together Thursday to celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day festival of light, Amalie Frankel's family was one member larger.

Frankel's first grandson, Ezekiel Frankel, of Rochester, celebrated his 1-month birthday on the first night of Hanukkah, she said.

"As we were celebrating in our home, he got to symbolically light his first menorah," she said.

The nightly menorah lighting is typically done at home, but on Thursday, the third day of the festival, each family was encouraged to bring their menorah from home and light them together at B'nai Israel Synagogue.

Although Hanukkah isn't as important as High Holy Days or Passover in the Jewish religion, Frankel said, "we like to get together and have fun and remember the story."

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The night included songs and dances presented by the religious-school children and traditional potato latkes and jelly donuts, "a very healthy dinner," she said.

Most important, though, is the message of the holiday, she said.

"We think about light and hope and religious freedom and how they continue to be as important today as those things were 2,000 years ago," Frankel said.

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