Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony held outside Tree of Life synagogue building

(JTA) — A Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony to strengthen and heal the Pittsburgh Jewish community was held outside of the Tree of Life synagogue building.

Hundreds gathered Sunday evening around a towering electric menorah in front of the building where 11 worshippers were killed by a gunman during Shabbat morning services. The eight-branched menorah stood in the spot where a temporary memorial had been erected for the victims of the shooting attack, which had been visited by thousands, including President Donald Trump, in the days following the Oct. 27 attack.

The candle for the first night of Chanukah was lit by a group including police officers, paramedics, the head of the local FBI office and survivors of the massacre, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

“As in ancient times, [when] Jewish people strove for independence, strove for religious freedom, so, too, today we strive to be able to freely worship in our sacred places,” Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of the New Light congregation, which met in the building and lost congregants, told the crowd on Sunday night.

Perlman said that Chanukah will never be the same for him.

“I never made the connection before between hope and Chanukah. But from now on, I will always celebrate this holiday with the idea that hope is always a possibility,” he said, according to the newspaper.

Perlman and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha led the crowd in singing Hanukkah songs.

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