German President lights a candle
Berlin lights a candle
Standing in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lit the first Hanukkah Candle on Sunday evening. Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, the Chabad Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Berlin, couldn’t hide his excitement: “it’s incredible that 80 years after Kristallnacht, where Hitler stood and called for the annihilation of the Jews, the German president honors the community with lighting a candle—a candle that symbolizes the victory of light over darkness.”
Steinmeier denounced anti-Semitism in his remarks at the event and said he is proud of “the bustling Jewish life in today’s Germany.”
“Nes gadol hayah sham (a great miracle happened there),” said the president in Hebrew, “but today, nes gadol haya po (a great miracle happened here), in Brandenburg Gate.”
“This is especially moving for me,” said Rabbi Teichtal. “My great-grandfather was murdered in Auschwitz. My father survived, and when he heard I’m going to work in Germany in 1996, he was horrified. Later, he said he feels this is the real vengeance against the Nazis—but he never came to visit me here.”
Wellington lights the first candle around the globe
New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, lit the first Hanukkah candle when it was still noontime in Israel.
Rabbi Ariel Tal and his wife Racheli, of Straus-Amiel Ohr Torah Stone, joined Chabad representatives, an Israel-loving Christian spiritual leader and 30 Israeli backpackers to light a candle.
A Hanukkah celebration in rural India
In Manipur, a state in India’s northeast, the Haokip family lit a candle with several dozens of the Bnei Menashe communit, who believes they are the descendants of the Menashe Tribe that was deported from the land of Israel with the nine other tribes by the Assyrian king over 2,700 years ago.
Community members speak Kuki and other local Sino-Tibetan dialects. Some live across the border in western Burma and Bangladesh. The Shavei Israel organization has been working for years to help Bnei Menashe make Aliyah and assist them in finding their place in Israel.
“This is just like the heroic story of the Maccabees, who did everything to preserve their Jewish identity,” said Rabbi Michael Freund, founder and chairman of Shavei Israel. “They have managed to stay Jewish despite great challenges over the years. We hope this is their last Hanukkah in India.”
Bariloche lights a candle in the far south
Hours after the candles in Tel Aviv had burned out, Chabad members and Israeli backpackers lit Hanukkah candles in Argentina’s Bariloche—the most southern Hanukkah candles to be lit around the globe.
Between icebergs and national parks—Israeli mochileros bring Hanukkah lights to surprising places. “Chabad’s Car Menorah will travel to the most remote regions around here throughout the holiday,” said Rabbi Boaz Klein. “We’ll make it to the port where the ferries leave for Antarctica.”
Hanukkah candles in Cairo
Israeli Ambassador in Cairo David Govrin and the entire embassy team celebrated Hanukkah in the Meir Biton Synagogue in the al-Ma'adi neighborhood of the Egyptian capital. Foreign ambassadors and members of the city’s Jewish community attended.
“This is an exciting event and it takes place at this unique synagogue, which was built in 1934 at the height of the city’s Jewish community, in the luxurious al-Ma’adi neighborhood,” said Govrin.
Chabad lights menoras from Bangkok to MoscowCelebratory candle lighting took place across the globe with Chabad representatives leading the major events. Rabbi Menachem Lazar from Rome lit Italy’s central menorah, while Rabbi Israel Lieberman led the candle lighting in Hong Kong, with hundreds of curious locals coming to see what the holiday is about.
In Cyprus, Rabbi Zeev Raskin lit candles in Larnaca. In Ukraine, a country where anti-Semitism is rampant, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Wilhelm led the candle lighting in the Carpathian region’s Uzhgorod. In Bangkok, the candle lighting was followed by a party, attended by emissary Rabbi Nehemia Wilhelm.
In Russia, where Chabad’s Rebe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn was arrested for teaching Judaism in 1927, the candle lighting ceremony took place in Moscow’s Red Square.
Jerusalem lights up for HanukkahIn Jerusalem, a candle lighting ceremony took place at the Western Wall, where Chief Rabbi David Lau lit a candle in the men’s prayer section and the outgoing Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh lit the menorah at the Western Wall Plaza. “Hanukkah is the Jewish people's spiritual independence day,” said Alsheikh.
“Three years ago, when I started my term, I reminded us all that after the Maccabees won, there were still wars that came our way,” said Alsheikh. “History repeats itself, I said then. Independence is something that needs to be maintained.”
“Of all weapons, the most ancient one—knives—was what threatened the Jewish independence,” Alsheikh continued. “And then, the city’s keepers, the Israel Police, brought back the peace. I’m excited to see this plaza full, because the people of Israel trust the police,” he said, referencing the numerous stabbing attacks that took place in and around the Old City since October 2015.