Jews in Ukraine, waging a “war against darkness and light,” lit a massive menorah on Sunday night to mark the beginning of the eight-day Hanukkah festival while tens of thousands were still without electricity and new casualties were being reported in Russia’s almost 10-month-long war.
At dusk, dozens of people gathered in Kyiv’s Maidan Independence Square to witness the lighting of the first candle on what Jewish leaders claim to be the biggest menorah in all of Europe.
At a ceremony hosted by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko participated alongside ambassadors from France, Canada, Japan, Poland, Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
The menorah’s flames, which towered over the crowd and oncoming cars in the chilly weather, were lit while they sang blessings.
The story of Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration honoring the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees following their victory over the Syrians more than 2,000 years ago, was compared by Rabbi Mayer Stambler, a prominent member of Ukraine’s Jewish community.
The oil mysteriously burned for eight days and eight nights when there was only enough to keep the temple lamps lighted for one day and one night; this accomplishment is now commemorated as the Jewish Festival of Lights.
Stambler compared the current blackouts in Ukraine brought on by Russian bombardments, saying, “We are going through the same crisis right now.” “Darkness and light conflict with one other.”