Chabad asks Arizona to allow inmates to light menorahs

Chabad asks Arizona to allow inmates to light menorahs

State Department of Corrections says practice would present a security risk and lead to demands from other prisoners

JTA — Chabad of Arizona asked the state Department of Corrections to allow inmates to light menorahs during Hanukkah using real flames.

Arizona is one of seven states that do not allow prison inmates to light menorahs using real candles or oil, Chabad told the Arizona Republic newspaper.

“It’s wrong to deny their religious freedom, especially when there are so many ways it can be done,” said Rabbi Zalman Levertov, regional director of Chabad of Arizona.

Levertov proposed having a prison guard light a menorah that is visible to the Jewish inmates.

Bill Lamoreaux, a Department of Corrections spokesman, told the newspaper that having an open flame in the prison is both a “safety and security risk.”

Arizona has some 680 Jewish inmates in its prisons, but some 11,000 inmates who want to use burning candles for ceremonial purposes.

“Any accommodation for any religion has to be allowed for others as well,” Mike Linderman, administrator of pastoral activities for the Department of Corrections, told the newspaper.

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