MOSCOW (Dec. 12)
Unexpected chilly weather did not prevent roughly 1,000 people from gathering just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin for a Chanukah candlelighting.
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told the throngs Sunday night that the menorah near the Kremlin symbolizes the multicultural and multireligious city Moscow has become.
Luzhkov then helped Lev Levayev, a Lubavitch supporter and the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union — the largest Jewish group there — light the first Chanukah candle.
The celebration was part of a worldwide candlelighting celebration sponsored by the Lubavitch movement. Candlelightings took place at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Western Wall in Jerusalem and Ground Zero in New York. Those three events were streamed live over the Web at virtualhanukkah.com.
In Kiev, the president of Ukraine praised the Jewish community’s role in the country. In a meeting Monday with Levayev, Leonid Kuchma pledged to help return Jewish communal property.
After the meeting at the presidential palace in Kiev, Kuchma lit a Chanukah menorah as 35 Lubavitch rabbis looked on. “To see the president light the menorah together with Mr. Levayev in the presidential palace” is a “miracle of Chanukah in our days,” said Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzki, the chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk.
In Washington, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz lit the national Chanukah menorah. Hundreds attended Sunday’s event, which was sponsored by American Friends of Lubavitch.
The menorah, which stands on the Ellipse in front of the White House, has been lit each Chanukah for the past 22 years.
Other public candlelighting ceremonies took place around the world.
A mile away from the Kremlin celebration, several hundred Jewish students and youngsters gathered at a hall in downtown Moscow for a Chanukah celebration sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Reform movement in Russia.
Another menorah was lit at the site of the World Trade Center attack. Laura Lehrfeld, who is 18 months old and lost her father when the twin towers collapsed, lit the menorah’s first candle Sunday night.
Rescue workers and several family members of victims of the Sept. 11 terror attack gathered after sunset near the rubble of the World Trade Center for the ceremony. A similar ceremony will take place each of the nights of Chanukah.
In Hungary, meanwhile, a menorah is being lit every night of Chanukah in front of the Parliament building in Budapest.
At the Lubavitch ceremony in Moscow, a hundred people, including Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s chief rabbis, formed a circle and danced joyously around the menorah as the loudspeakers played traditional Jewish tunes.
Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, Nathan Meron, addressed the crowd.
“Next year,” he joked, “inside the Kremlin.”