City of Richmond celebrates first Unity Tree, Menorah

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The City of Richmond celebrated the decoration of its first official Unity Tree and the lighting of its first official menorah Tuesday at City Hall.

Mayor Levar Stoney was joined by several community leaders, as well as Rabbi Scott Nagel from Congregation Beth Ahabah.

“One of the reasons we celebrate Hanukkah is we celebrate a great victory over oppressive forces that would not allow us to pray where and how we needed to pray, and that is also a story of unity, for the story of Hanukkah tells us that when we act together, a seemingly powerless, small group of people can actually overcome intractable adversity,” Rabbi Nagel said. “It’s a story we need to hear each and every year.”

The Richmond Police Department’s (RPD) band kicked off the event by playing holiday favorites such as “This Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”

Rabbi Nagel lit three lights on the menorah at City Hall in honor of the third night of the Festival of Lights. (Photo: Olivia Jaquith)

Mayor Stoney then spoke, followed by Richmond City Council President Cynthia Newbille and Rabbi Nagel.

“No matter what your faith is, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, the holidays remind us that it’s love that binds us together; love for our family and friends, love for our neighbors,” Stoney said.

Local leaders placed ornaments on the Unity Tree inside City Hall on the side of the 10th Street entrance, and then the menorah was lit with three lights, in honor of the third day of Festival of Light.

“This is that kind of opportunity and occasion, especially in the context of all that we’ve been dealing with to have absolute clarity that this is one city, this is our city, and we’re all in,” Newbille said. “We’re diverse, there’s inclusivity, and that we are all a part of the solution.”

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