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Menorah lighting honors firefighters

On Sunday, as many lit their menorah’s fourth candle while tuning into livestream Hanukkah services, Rabbi Avi Zwiebel gathered some of Southern Oregon’s firefighters for a lighting ceremony outside the Talent Community Center to honor their service this year.

Zwiebel said the public lighting represents a new tradition to “bring more light into the world with the message that ultimately, light will prevail.”

“Fire unfortunately doesn’t bring back such great memories for many of us. But yet there’s also the flame, the fire of goodness in this world,” he continued.

Zwiebel highlighted firefighters from Jackson County Fire District No. 5 for their selfless actions in service of public safety this summer, especially during and following the Sept. 8 Almeda fire that burned parts of Ashland, Talent and Phoenix.

Firefighters led the way to community unity by performing the greatest good deed possible, he said — saving other lives.

Fire District 5 Captain Aaron Bustard said the recognition is still “humbling,” now more than three months after the Almeda fire took the Phoenix fire station and thousands of other homes and buildings.

Looking back is challenging, but forward momentum behind the rebuilding process is where Bustard is focused, he said.

“We wish we could have done more, but we know we did what we could do,” Bustard said.

District Chief Charles Hanley has taken his experience on California wildfires to guide municipalities in dealing with federal and state agencies on this large-scale rebuilding process, and District 5 opened up its hall for a toy drive and other events as part of its continued community engagement approach, he said.

Rabbi Avi Zwiebel and Jackson County Fire Distrct 5 firefighters light the menorah Sunday at the Talent Community Center. (Allayana Darrow / Ashland Tidings)