NEW YORK (Dec. 9)
Jews throughout the world began the eight-day celebration of Chanukah last night with the lighting of the first candle. In Jerusalem at the traditional ceremony at the Western Wall, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren lit the first candle. Hundreds gathered at the wall despite cold weather, but Rabbi Goren cut the speeches short because of the cold.
Chanukah candles were lit by Israeli soldiers on top of Mt. Hermon. at Sharm el-Sheikh, at the Rosh Hanikra border post on the Mediterranean, in the Sinai and in every camp, base and position throughout the country. Israeli wives and mothers spared no efforts, in spite of the high cost of sugar, frying oil and flour, to prepare tens of thous- ands of “pontchikes” and “latkes” which they brought to the soldiers in various outposts and on main roads where soldiers were hitch-hiking rides home, Parades were held in base camps and regimental or corps rabbis lit the first candle and Chanukah songs were sung by hundreds of soldiers.
The longest ceremony yesterday was a torch relay which started at Modiin, the graveside of the Maccabees and ended at the headquarters of the Zionist Organization of America in midtown Manhattan in the eighth “Annual Chanukah Torch Relay Festival” of Masada, the ZOA’s national youth movement. In Israel, the torch was carried in relays from Modiin to Ben Gurion Airport by members of Young Maccabi whose fathers had died in the Yom Kippur War.
The torch was presented by Maccabi football (soccer) star Mordechai Spiegler to an EI AI captain who flew the torch to New York where hundreds of Masada youths, each running several hundred yards, brought the torch along the 15-mile route from Kennedy Airport to ZOA headquarters. Lisa Rubell, 17, of West Orange, N.J., the final runner, handed the torch to Ambassador David Rivlin, Israeli Consul General in New York
REDEDICATION OF IDEALS, GOALS
Israeli Premier Yitzhak Rabin, in a message to Masada in connection with the relay, said: “The festival of Chanukah dramatically illustrated the fervor of our nation for the protection of its heritage and national freedom. Always we have been the few against the many and in our unity have we discovered great strength. The Chanukah of this year serves as a rededication of the great ideals of our Jewish faith as Israel persists in its quest for peace and security. I call upon the Jewish youth in your movement in particular to work tirelessly for aliya and Jewish education upon which the future of Israel and our whole people ultimately depends”
Yeshiva University marked the kindling of the first light with its 46th annual Chanukah dinner at which the university honored Mayor Abraham Beame, New York City’s first Jewish mayor. “The Jewish people,” Dr. Samuel Belkin, the university’s president, said, “even in their darkest hours have been brightened by Chanukah, a festival of spiritual and intellectual victory and enlightenment.”
In San Francisco, the Annual Community Chanukah Banquet of the Jewish National Fund was held at the Fairmont Hotel at which the JNF launched its three-year bicentennial project to create a $6 million development of roads, parks, recreational areas and forests in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Some 1000 persons attended the dinner at which Sen. Hubert Humphrey(D.Minn.), who recently returned from a four-day official visit to Israel, was presented a Jerusalem Bible. George Christopher, former Mayor of San Francisco, and Alfred Fromm, chairman of the board of Fromm and Sichel, were honored for civic contributions and support of Israel.
Humphrey told the dinner guests that if Israel’s expulsion from UNESCO is allowed to go unchallenged, attempts will be made to expel Israel from the United Nations. He stressed that the U.S. must withhold its $16 million grant to UNESCO in light of that organization’s anti-Israel actions.
EFFORTS TO WITHSTAND EROSION
In Johannesburg, Chief Rabbi Bernard C.Casper, in a nationwide broadcast, declared, “We need the spirit of the Maccabees to withstand the efforts at erosion that so patently are directed against us.” He said. “What could be more expressive of the time in which we live than that South Africa and Israel are silenced in the UN while the leader of a terrorist group (PLO chief Yasir Arafat) responsible for the massacre at Munich, Maalot and Lod is admitted into its chambers.” The Great Synagogue of Johannesburg was filled for the traditional Chanukah service sponsored by the Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s League.