A crowd 500 strong stood in the ‘Red Square’ in the Northern Ukrainian city of Chernigov and watched in anticipation as the cherry picker slowly rose up 20 feet to light the giant Menorah. The excitement grew and the pride on that square was palpable.
This year, the second of this new tradition, a public Menorah was lit in the central square of Chernigov. It was a powerful event and the participants really identified with the public display of Jewish pride. Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein inspired the crowd with a thought about the power of light and the need to keep adding light.
Sveta has been working in the theater for 40 years, day in and day out. It is a standout in the city, majestically greeting all who enter the city. She never thought she would live to see this day, with a public menorah front of the theater.
Alexander, from Chernigov originally, now lives in Kiev. He happened to be in town for the day, and came over to the Red Square to see what the hype was about. The Menorah lighting and public display of Judaism, here, in a place where people tend to hide their Jewish identity, touched him deeply. He pledged to keep in touch with his Jewish identity.
The public Menorah lighting was biggest display of Judaism this Chanukah, and thank G-d, there were many more.
A Chanukah burger party for students; for children – a family fun day and escape room. The men enjoyed a dinner and farbrengen; and the women had a blast making herbal oil bottles and watching a Chanukah sand show.
Perhaps most touching, this year, students visited lonely, elderly people at home. 146 Holocaust survivors were thrilled to receive visitors, light the Menorah, and have Chanukah parties from the comfort of their own home.