Rabbi wants real candles in Menorah at the Palm Beach County Jail

Sheriff says too dangerous, 'it's not the Ritz'

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - it's a religious tradition at Hanukkah to have lighted candles which symbolize triumph over oppression in the Jewish faith.

Miami-Dade County Rabbi Menachem Katz , who assists Jewish inmates at the Palm Beach County Jail, would like the tradition to continue behind bars.

"It can be done in a safe manner along as there is a corrections officer in the room and a fire extinguisher and that is what is done in other county jails," the rabbi said.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw disagrees and won't allow the practice.

"Even if it's a little tiny candle, it doesn't take much to start a fire. A prisoner could put it on to a deputy, just out of spite. There is just a lot of things that could happen there."

The sheriff says inmates can still celebrate the Festival of Lights during services at the jail with an electric Menorah.

Rabbi Katz is hoping the sheriff will change his mind and allow inmates the same traditions other Jews are doing around the world.

The rabbi said, "We are hoping that a miracle will happen here and that Palm Beach County officials will come around and allow the Jewish inmates to observe Hanukkah in an appropriate way."

But sheriff Bradshaw says he will not change his mind when it comes to safety at the jail.

"The bottom line is this is a jail, it's not the Ritz Carlton. If people were that concerned about it, then they should think about committing the crimes and then have to spend the time in jail."

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