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More than 150 gathered to celebrate the lighting of a menorah in Key Biscayne’s Village Green Sunday, but the gathering to mark Hanukkah took on additional meaning amid ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip. 

Rabbi Avremel Caroline reminded attendees of the Maccabees, whose victory over the Syrians is the historical root of the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights. 

“The terrorist attack by Hamas wasn’t just aimed at a location, it’s a war against the Jewish people,” Caroline said. “That’s literally the story of Hanukkah, that the Maccabees were subject to persecution. A different brand of the same enemy.” 

“We feel for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and we will stand in unison with you,” said Mayor Joe Rasco. 

Caroline said he was heartened by the turnout at the Village Green event and an even larger gathering at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club a few days before.

“Key Biscayne has been a great example of a community that’s coming together,” he said. “We have so much to share.”

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On Monday, fighting continued in the territory’s two largest cities, where many thousands of civilians are still trapped by the fighting.

Residents said battles went on in and around the southern city of Khan Younis, where Israeli ground forces opened a new line of attack last week. Battles were also still underway in parts of Gaza City and the urban Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, where large areas have been reduced to rubble.

Israel has pledged to keep fighting until it removes Hamas from power, dismantles its military capabilities and gets back all of the hostages taken by militants during Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack into Israel that ignited the war. 

Monday, President Joe Biden is hosting a White House Hanukkah reception, as he has continued to denounce rising antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Biden plans to talk about how Hanukkah is a timeless story of miracles, and that — even in dark times — we can find the light, the White House said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story

Editor-in-Chief

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow...