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Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 10 Tishrei 5782
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Menorahs will be lit in NJ Prisons
The lighting of the Menorah will be permitted in New Jersey state prisons for the first time, thanks to a new ruling announced this week by the New Jersey Department of Corrections and Governor Christie’s office.

“Our goal is to respect and accommodate religious traditions as best we can in our institutions,” said New Jersey’s Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan. “I am pleased that collaborative discussions between the Governor’s Office, the Corrections Department and leaders from New Jersey’s Jewish community have resulted in this pilot program.”

“This change in policy is long overdue and thanks to Governor Christie and his staff this is a reality now in our state,” said Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, administrator of Chabad House -Lubavitch of Central New Jersey. “It is important that even those that are incarcerated be able to celebrate Chanukah correctly.”

Previously, most prisons were uncomfortable with allowing real candles. Now, authorized volunteer religious leaders or prison staff will light candles with inmates present.

The dialogue that led to the reversal of policy began at last year’s Governors’ Chanukah Party, when Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, Rabbi Aaron Kotler and Rabbi Mendy Carlebach approached the Governor and asked for high level meetings to discuss this issue. Within a short period of time a meeting was held in the Governor’s Office between leaders of the Jewish Community, the Governor’s Senior Staff and the Commissioner of the NJ Department of Corrections.


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