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Chanukah in Russia’s Capital

The festival of Chanukah in Russia’s capital city of Moscow this year swept up hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the Jewish spectrum in the city: old and young, indigent and wealthy, orphans, prisoners, and hospital patients. In a chain of activities and events that reached out to Jews wherever they may be, bringing them the light and warmth of the Chanukah candles.

It began with the grand annual event of Pirsumei Nisa; the public menorah lighting at the Kremlin walls, with dozens of media outlets broadcasting live to millions of people the wonderful light of Chanukah. As the Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berel Lazar lit the first candle, the hundreds of people gathered around burst into song and dance, conveying to the world at large their tremendous gratitude to Hashem for His tremendous miracles. In those days, in our times.

Every night there was a large and impressive public menorah lighting at the central Marina Roscha Shul, organized by the dedicated team of Gabbaim. Dozens of energetic shluchim and students from all five of Moscow’s Yeshivos Tomchei Tmimim spread out to homes all over the cities, equipped with Chanukah menorahs and doughnuts, brining light and warmth to Jewish hearts wherever they may be.

The Butirsky Prison in the center of Moscow, said to be the world’s oldest jail, held an emotional Chanukah party for its Jewish inmates. In attendance were Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Prison Chaplain Rabbi Aharon Gurevitch and more.

At the hospitals, hot meals were distributed along with Chanukah menorahs to Jewish patients, and a festive atmosphere was brought to them by the volunteers of “Bikur Cholim Moscow”.

Moscow’s Shaarey Tzedek Chesed Center hosted daily menorah lightings and Chanukah events for hundreds of seniors, who also received special food packages in honor of the holiday.

Each of the city’s many Chabad Houses, Educational Institutions, Children’s Home and Jewish Community centers hosted special events throughout the eight days of Chanukah, thus lighting up Moscow with the light of Chanukah, overpowering the physical cold and snow, as well as filling the spiritual void caused by 70 years of Communism.

photos by Levi Nazarov