Deep in the dark and cold winter of the FSU, the lights of Chanukah will begin to shine on Sunday evening, December 2.
The frigid temperatures will not deter the members of many Jewish communities, young and old, to leave their homes and stand proudly in the main squares of the large cities and the town centers of smaller villages and publicly light the Menorah throughout the eight days of Chanukah. The lighting ceremonies will be accompanied by traditional doughnuts, lively music, dancing and cheerful holiday spirit.
Every community lends its unique twist to the ceremony, the Menorah in Orenburg, Russia will be carved out of ice. There will be an Israeli cantor who will accompany the lighting with traditional songs in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Chanukah is a celebration for young and old, and throughout the FSU, the eight days of the holiday will be busy with programming geared towards every age and stage. The school children within the FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ school system, including the Jewish orphanages, will be celebrating with parties, entertainment, stories, music and delicious treats. The teenagers, particularly those associated with the EnerJew program, will be enjoying the festivities, sharing thought-provoking stories, singing together and participating in interesting activities. Young adults, many of whom are involved in the STARS program, will get together to enjoy the festivities amongst friends.
The needier members of the various communities, such as those who are sick, old, lonely or suffering from poverty, will be visited by volunteers who will bring the joy of Chanukah to their homes, lighting the Menorah with them, singing with them and delivering holiday baskets filled with treats and nourishing food.
“Jews of all ages leaving their homes to attend outdoor Menorah lightings during the coldest time of the year in one of the coldest regions of the world is a true testament to the Jewish spirit,” said Daniel Gordon, FJC outreach activities coordinator, “they stand together, singing traditional songs and celebrating their religion with pride, in a country where practicing religion was banned for 70 years. This is a true Chanukah miracle.”