Hanukkah Celebration Grows

By Sara Faruqi, Toronto Police Service Published: 5:25 p.m. December 22, 2014
Updated: 5:42 p.m. December 22, 2014

The first year 32 Division put up a menorah for Hanukkah there were two people lighting it. This year, almost 300 showed up to celebrate the lighting of the menorah. 

A man in TPS uniform with a couple and a boy and a girl, one wearing a police forge cap
Sergeant Peter Rallis with Chani and Levi and their children Zelman and Ester

“Three years ago, a Jewish officer asked me if we could put up a menorah at the station,” said Superintendent Selwyn Fernandes, of  32 Division, of Sergeant Lawrence Sager’s request. 

“I said ‘of course, we are here to celebrate all religions.’” 

The local Jewish community donated a large menorah for the station. Officers light a candle every day at dusk during Hanukkah. The Division is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the country.

Two men in TPS uniform and two other men stand beside a menorah larger than themselves
Rabbi Moshe Spalter, Superintendent Sam Fernandes, Rabbi Yonah Vilenkin and Sergeant Doodnath Churkoo with the menorah that is lit in front of 32 Division station

This year, members of the Jewish community asked Fernandes if they could end their Hanukkah parade at 32 Division and light the menorah together with the officers. The Jewish holiday marks the triumph of light over darkness and reclamation of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

“It is the triumph of religion over oppression,” said Rabbi Moshe Spalter, referring to the oppression of religion by different powers throughout the world in the past.

To celebrate Hanukkah “today in the halls of power, is something very special,” said Rabbi Spalter. 

A garage filled with police vehicles and people
Community members gathered in the 32 Division garage check out police equipment

It was a special moment for Rabbi Yonah Vilenkin, who said his father had to practice his religion secretly in Communist Russia since it was against the law, while he walks “freely and openly” in Canada, today, celebrating his religion alongside police officers.

After ending the parade, lighting the menorah and singing hymns, officers and community members celebrated with traditional music, food and a craft competition for the children. 

Police officers also showed off their scout cars as well as their police dogs and horses for children and the community. 

“The children are really excited and it is nice to show the kids what is involved in police work,” said Rabbi Vilenkin.

TPS crest watermark