8 snapshots of Hanukkah celebrations from around the world

(JTA) — Hanukkah may be considered a “minor holiday,” as the rabbis say, but its unique resonance and traditions offer a great window into Jewish communities around the world.

We’ve compiled eight images, one for each menorah candle, that give a snapshot of how Jews — and in a few cases, a few prominent Gentiles — celebrated this year’s Festival of Lights from Chile. To Ukraine to Taiwan.

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Rabbi Moishe Moskovich lights the first Hanukkah candle. (Viacheslav Madievsky/Ukrinform/Future Publications via Getty Images)

Most of the Jews of Kharkiv, once a hub of Ukrainian Jewish life, are believed to have left since the start of the Russian war in February. But on Sunday, residents of the city in northeastern Ukraine rested Sunday night at Kharkov’s Kral Synagogue, where participants made wax candles, rolled tefillin and ate latkes in a ceremony led by a local branch of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. With apple sauce

Denver, Colorado

(Image courtesy of Aish of the Rockies)

The Denver chapter of NCSY, the youth group of the Orthodox Union, unveiled a Lego Menorah on Sunday that was built by more than 425 teenagers and is made of 25,000 Lego bricks. The 24-and-a-half-foot-tall structure will be taken apart, and the bricks will be donated to children in foster care in the United States and Israel.

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NCSY Denver leader Rabbi Yonatan Nuszen claims it is the world’s largest Lego menorah, and the bricks will be taken apart and donated to children in foster care in the United States and Israel. However, another Lego menorah claims the title of largest menorah in the world – this one in Israel.

Tel Aviv, Israel

A Lego menorah in Tel Aviv is competing for a Guinness World Record. (Lego Israel Store/Instagram)

North Miami Beach-based artist Yitzchok Kasowitz claims his Lego menorah at the Lego Store in the Dizengoff Center, built with about 130,000 pieces, is the largest of its kind. According to The Times of Israel, it took a team of “Lego experts” just two marathon days to put it together.

Santiago, Chile

The President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, lights the Menorah, accompanied by the President and Vice President of the Jewish Community of Chile, Gerardo Gurodisher and Ariela Agusin, and the Reverend Lamunda, Rabbi Eduardo Weingortin. (Courtesy of the Jewish community of Chile)

Chile’s far-left President Gabriel Burich has a complicated relationship with his country’s majority Jewish community, sparking a minor diplomatic crisis with Israel in September when he rejected the credentials of an Israeli envoy.

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But on the Friday before Hanukkah, he attended his first official candle-lighting ceremony as president, something that has become a tradition at the Lamunda presidential palace for the past 14 years.

Ana Lea Orriarte, Secretary General of Chile, representing Boric, said: “This celebration assures the right that everyone should practice their faith anywhere and at any time. Lighting these candles means lighting us in difficult and easy days.

Helena, Montana

For the first time in nearly 90 years, Hanukkah lights will shine from Temple Amanu-El. (From the Montana Jewish Project)

For the first time since 1934, Helena’s Jewish community celebrated Hanukkah Sunday at Temple Emanu-El, the state’s first synagogue, after a month of trying to buy the building back from the Catholic diocese. The interfaith event was attended by nearly 150 guests who enjoyed the (much smaller) menorah lighting, latex, photo booth, arts and crafts, and dreidel playing. It was the first time in nearly 90 years that Hanukkah lights shone from this building.

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Mumbai, India

(Gab Miner)

Mumbai’s Jewish community, led by Chabad Bombay, this week lit a large menorah at India Gate, an early 20th-century arched monument. After the candles were lit, guests were treated to a Hanukkah performance by local Jewish school students that included dancing and plastic swords. Today, about 5,000 Jews live in Mumbai.

Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(Michel Bolsonaro/Instagram)

On Monday, public Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremonies were held in two of Brazil’s most populous cities, where hundreds of people gathered to watch and the ceremony was televised. Brazil’s First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro posted a photo of a menorah and a Bible in front of the Brazilian and Israeli flags on her Instagram account, which received more than 420,000 likes. His title included a blessing for Hanukkah candles in Hebrew.

Taipei, Taiwan

Members of Taiwan’s Jewish community are hard at work on their menorahs. (Courtesy of Benjamin Shawal)

In the weeks leading up to Hanukkah, members of Taiwan’s Jewish community in Taipei travel to the Yingge district – an area famous for its ceramics production – to shape and light their menorahs in what has become an annual tradition. Menorahs were then used to ring the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday.

Jordin Haimey contributed to this article.


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