For the second year, a menorah will stand in front of 32 Division, a symbol of the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.
A simple ceremony was held Nov. 27 to light the first two candles on the menorah, which is lit throughout the eight-day festival of light celebrating a triumph of light over darkness.
Sgt. Lawrence Sager, a Jewish officer, led a prayer at the small ceremony attended by members of the community, including Len Rudner, of the Canadian Jewish Congress, former Toronto Police Services Board Chair Norm Gardner and 52 Division Const. Marcus Herman.
“As a Jewish officer, I’m very proud to have the menorah out front – it tells the community we’re interested in their culture,” Sager said.
“I’ve had numerous calls today that they were so impressed we had a menorah out front in recognition of them.”
He said police reaching out in this way builds trust in the community.
“The Jewish community is victimized in many ways, whether it be hate, vandalism or anti-Semitism, so as a police service there is an onus on us to be in touch with the Jewish community. When the Jewish community sees the Menorah out front they know we are empathetic.”
Last year, Sager challenged 32 Division unit commander Supt. Sam Fernandes who had been helping decorate the north Toronto station for Christmas last year, to have a menorah during Chanukah.
“He explained the meaning and I said ‘great, let’s do it,” said Fernandes who contacted 32 Division Community Police Liaison Committee members David Stein and Michael Kuhl.
The next day they brought a big menorah, which officers light each night. It’s been very educational for our officers to learn about the culture of what is a very large community in our Division
Const. Dawn Heighton brought her Jewish neighbours and their children to the blessing to introduce to share in their tradition and introduce them to officers and take them on a station tour.
“It’s the difference between tolerating other cultures and embracing them. When you see the menorah you feel you are being embraced by the larger community,” said Tally Wolf, who brought her three children.
“The kids were excited to come to a police station – how often do they get that chance?”
Amalia Singer-Jordan, who lights a menorah at home each night of the holiday with a blessing, said the gesture by police is appreciated.
“There is a huge Jewish community so it’s nice to see us represented in front of the police station,” said Singer-Jordan, who brought her two children to the ceremony.
“It’s nice to see the Jewish population represented in front of 32 Division.”
Insp. Myron Demkiw said the Division has strong ties to the Jewish community and its leaders.
“We work very hard to establish a strong relationship with the Jewish community,” Demkiw said.
“This is just another way in which we can demonstrate that support and have an opportunity for our officers to be a part of the community.”