It is 33 years now that the Jewish community in Curitiba, Parana, South Brazil, manifests its’ strong Jewish identity and pride at the traditional giant menorah lighting at the 29th of March Square located in the neighborhood of Mercês. Unique to Curitiba is the support and assistance that the Mayor and Municipal organs offer in setting up the giant Menorah, taking it down after Chanukah, and providing a platform, tent and sound equipment for the grand Menorah-lighting ceremony each year.
Every Chanukah, Rabbi Fitche Dubrawsky, director of Chabad of Paraná, together with his two sons-in law Rabbi Mendi Labkowski, kolel director, and Rabbi Mendy Stolik, youth director, think of a new attraction to enhance the program and stimulate the interest, primarily of the young generation. This year they “brought” Israel, our Holy Land, to the square, for the public Menorah lighting, on the first evening of Chanukah. Rabbi Dubrawsky sculptured out of pumice stone an amazing replica of the Kotel and had it set up at the square in front of the giant Menorah, where participants eagerly posed with family members and friends to capture the moment on their smart phones. Each child made a beautiful Menorah, with stones simulating the Kotel and small jugs for the lamps. These beautiful artifacts were carefully taken home and lovingly lit up by the children during the Chanukah holiday. It should be mentioned here of the amazing community project that Chabad of Paraná organizes annually since 1997, where all the Jewish organizations in our city split the cost of the manufacture of thousands of candles and attractive boxes, help pack hundreds of candle boxes and personally deliver them to all the registered Jewish families, with the assistance of tens of devoted volunteers.
Joyce Krispin, master of cerimonies, very capably and articulately opened the program, expressing gratitude to all responsible for the organization of the event as well as those who were instrumental for the success of the candle project and invited dignitaries and community leaders to come up front. Mayor Rafael Greca graced our program with his presence and expressed his admiration for the Jewish community and wish that the Divine Light should continue to shine in our midst as it has in the past. Rabbi Dubrawsky spoke about the miracle of the eternity of the Jewish People due to our tenacity in upholding our traditions and the precepts of our Torah. “Despite the efforts of our oppressors who desired to extinguish the light of our faith, that light shines ever brightly today, where in the place of one seven branched candelabra in the Holy Temple, millions of Jews kindle Menorahs for eight days in all corners of the globe. We pray and eagerly await the arrival of Moshiach when we will once again kindle the Menorah in the Holy Temple, in Jerusalém,” he declared with great emotion.
Mr. Amnon Czerny, resident of Curitiba, who served in the six day war, was honored with reciting the three blessings and kindling the Kosel menorah. The Mayor and Vice President of the Kehila of Curitiba were respectively honored with the kindling of the Shamosh and first light of the giant electrical menorah. Mr. Ari Zugman, representing the Jewish Federation and Mr. Isac Baril representing the B’nai Brith recited Psalm 122 for the protection of our Holy Land and its’ inhabitants. Children of the community came up to the platform and recited the 12 Torah passages which the Lubavitcher Rebbe indicated for all to memorize. Hot latkes, sweet doughnuts, prepared by Kitov, Kosher kitchen and bakery of Beit Chabad Curitiba, and soft drinks and water were distributed generously, to all participants.
A very touching moment was the projection of a video clip prepared by Shlucha Tzivi Stolik, displaying former Curitiban residents, living today in different cities in Israel, giving Chanukah greetings in honor of this event. Tens of Jewish families, active members of our community and our Beit Chabad in the past, have made Aliya over the years and formed beautiful families committed to traditional values. They are a source of inspiration and pride for their brothers and sisters living here in the diaspora. A lively raffle was held towards the end of the program and many children won Chanukah toys and decorations augmenting even more their appreciation and excitement for the Chanukah Holiday.