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Hanukkah in Wyoming

Some estimates have the Jewish population of Wyoming at 0.2%, but congregations find ways to get together for the holiday.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Downtown Cheyenne is all about Christmas. Shop windows are decorated with Santa and Christmas trees. 

On Sunday, just down the street from the city's festive downtown, the Mt. Sinai congregation was celebrating the first day of Chanukah -- a holiday that not many in Wyoming observe. 

A group of about 40 people gathered to light candles, sing songs and catch up with each other on the first night of what's called the Festival of Lights. 

The Jewish population of Wyoming is small, with some estimates at 0.2% of the population, but Dave Lerner, the president of Mt. Sinai congregation in Cheyenne, said he is comfortable and happy in his home state. 

Credit: Anne Herbst

"Jews have been very welcomed here," Lerner said. "We don’t have much in the way of anti-Semitism or anything that would make us feel in any way not comfortable, not welcomed."

He credits that, in part, to the values Wyomingites hold. 

"We’re live and let live in Wyoming, and that applies to religion as well," Lerner said. 

Credit: Anne Herbst

Lerner also said that while Chanukah is not a major Jewish holiday, it is a good time to get together and have fun with friends and family. One thing it's not?

"A lot of people think it’s the Jewish Christmas," Lerner said. "We don’t have a Jewish Christmas, for obvious reasons." 

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