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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Rabbi: Prison rule prevents Hanukkah celebration by Michigan inmates

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A national humanitarian organization says Michigan's prison system is keeping Jewish inmates from celebrating Hanukkah because they are not allowed to use matches or lighters.

Surfside, Florida-based Aleph Institute says prisoners are unable to light menorahs over the eight-day Hanukkah observance that starts Saturday.

Rabbi Menachem Katz says Corrections officials "should have a little compassion."

Prison policy prevents inmates from possessing candles, lighters and other incendiary devices during group religious services or activities.

Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz tells the Detroit Free Press that a few dozen prisoners have asked to light menorahs.

Gautz says inmates can light menorahs if prison staffers or volunteers hold the matches or lighters.

The Aleph Institute's Katz tells The Detroit News that staffers or volunteers would have to attend ceremonies each of Hanukkah's eight nights.

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