MILWAUKEE — Hanukkah celebrations kick off Sunday, Dec. 18.

With the spotlight on the Jewish community, some people are hoping the holiday serves as a time to help educate others as anti-Semitism is on the rise. 

Levi Stein is the executive director of the Friendship Circle of Wisconsin. For him, Hanukkah is a celebration of freedom and pride. 

Stein started holiday celebrations by putting up a menorah outside of the Friendship Cafe in Fox Point. He said putting up menorahs all across Milwaukee is just one part of the holiday celebration.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

“When you take one candle and you ignite another candle, it doesn’t take away from the candle that you are lighting with,” said Stein. “That’s a message we can all learn from and share the light with the world around us.”

Stein is staying optimistic despite his personal experiences with anti-Semitism. 

“The best way to fight it and the best way to minimize it is by teaching the community what it’s about,” he said.

Shara Cohen works with the Friendship Cafe. Despite tensions in today’s society, she’s clinging to what matters most.

Cohen said Hanukkah is an important time for her family.

(Spectrum News 1/Katarina Velazquez)

“It’s so important that I raise my children to be proud of being Jewish and to be proud of celebrating Hanukkah,” she said. 

She wants others to realize we can all be one community, despite our differences.

“We all love the holidays, we all love being together with our family and friends and celebrating,” said Cohen. “We all believe in family and in joy, love and peace.”

Stein said despite the challenges they may face, they will continue to fight against hate and work to be a light in the middle of dark places.