This is the twenty fifth year in a row that the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, lit the Chanuka candles in Moscow’s Red Square, and every year he feels the same surge of excitement as he pronounces the words “she’asa nissim la’avoseynu bayamim hahem bizman hazeh.” When the crowd roars “amen” in reply, the words echo and reverberate off of the Kremlin fortress.
This year too, a few hours after Shabbos, Rabbi Lazar got up on the huge stage that was erected with help from the Moscow municipality, between the statues of Karl Marx, founder of communism, and the walls that encircle the red square. In a voice choked with emotion, he once again proclaimed the three brachos, and the crowd replied with a thunderous “Amen!” as cameras from the Russian TV stations rolled, broadcasting these moments to millions of viewers all over Russia.
At the conclusion of the candle lighting ceremony, lively Chassidic music filled the air as the crowds danced in circles. Jews from all stripes and backgrounds came together in unity to thank Hashem for the miracles and wonders that He does for us, in those days, in our times.
Photos by Levi Nazarov