From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Great Wall of China: Chabad Lights Up the Skies


by B. Olidort - LUBAVITCH HEADQUARTERS, NY

December 25, 2005

It’s hard to litigate against light, which explains why despite scattered attempts around the country by church- and-state purists to take down the eight-armed menorahs from public spaces, America’s skies will be illuminated with the menorah's lights this week of Chanukah.

Millions are by now accustomed to the menorah display in their respective town squares, and, Jewish or not, they welcome the light, often joining in the festivities celebrating the message of Chanukah. After all, the menorah’s message is universal, which explains why governors and mayors and councilmen nationwide are eager for the chance to get into those ubiquitous cherry pickers and put flame to wick.

More than any other symbol, the menorah is representative of Chabad-Lubavitch and its efforts to displace darkness with light. When Chanukah was an unknown among the general American public, Chabad introduced the holiday. At the time, it didn’t seem to have much hope of ever competing with the pervasive and highly popular sights and sounds of the December holiday season.

But with guidance from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, Chabad began to place giant menorahs in public squares, and launched a multi-faceted holiday awareness campaign that introduced the story and the symbols of the Festival of Lights to children and their parents, imparting a newfound joy and pride that Jewish people could claim as their own. Chabad’s menorah distribution program, and its innovative, hands-on mitzvah factories that include olive presses and dreidel houses, gave children in public schools nationwide direct acquaintance with the traditions of Chanukah. Where once the holiday seemed a cheerless comparison to the other events on the block, today Jewish families across the board are proud to celebrate this eight-day festival with enthusiasm and color enough to keep children and families spinning dreidels eight days straight.

With each passing year, the festivities expand, and the number of public menorahs grow, not only nationwide but abroad as well. To date, Chabad’s grand menorahs illuminate universal landmarks—among them the Champs Elysees, the Brandenburg Gate, the White House, the Kremlin, and this year, a new one was illuminated for the first time ever—on the Great Wall of China. These, in addition of course to those in popular, high traffic places like Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, Universal Studios in Florida, City Walk in Studio City, CA and the hundreds of public squares, malls, and thoroughfares around the world.

Lubavitch.com wishes all its readers a very joyous Chanukah. As the holiday progresses, we will keep readers posted with photos and updates from news media around the world.

Among those featured here are photos from Moscow, Russia, where some 3,000 people attended the Rossiya concern hall for a gala Man-of-the-Year celebration, at which the Russia's Federation of Jewish Communities recognized outstanding contributors to a wide range of areas. Planned to coincide with the first night of Chanukah,thousands witnessed the lighting of the Menorah, and were greeted by Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.

Despte freezing temperatures, 300 Jews made their way to the menorah lighing on the Great Wall outside of Beijing with the city's Chabad Rabbi, Shimon Freundlich.

Also among the photos are: one of an ice-menorah designed for Chabad's public display at a skating rink in Helsinki, Finland; menorah lighting in S. Paulo, Brazil with the city's mayor; and Chabad's yeshiva students bringing Chanukah cheer to our soldiers at IDF bases in Israel.

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