Hanukkah ceremony amid blackouts: Holiday resonates in Kyiv as some face winter in darkness

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By Euronews
A menorah candle lighting ceremony in Kyiv.
A menorah candle lighting ceremony in Kyiv.   -  Copyright  JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP

Dozens gathered in central Kyiv at sundown on Sunday to light a candle on a giant menorah on the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.

The eight nights of Hanukkah commemorate the rebellion of Maccabee Jews in 167 BC, an event that believers say brought with it several miracles.

One of the reported miracles included a small amount of oil that blazed for eight days. An event made more poignant after attacks by Russian forces left multiple cities in Ukraine without power, forcing millions to endure freezing temperatures without heating.

According to the country’s chief rabbi, Moshe Reuven Azman, the story held "valuable lessons" for Ukraine.

"We light one small candle, but if you light it in the darkest room, a small candle will push [out] a lot of darkness," he said.

"I say to Ukrainian people every day: We are the light, and we push [out] a lot of darkness."

Kyiv's Mayor Vitali Klitschko and ambassadors from Israel, the United States, Japan, Poland, Canada, France and other nations took part in the ceremony.

On Sunday Klitschko reflected on Moscow’s recent attacks. "The enemy wanted to leave us two days ago without light, without water, without heating, and today we light the biggest menorah in Europe,” he said.

Volodymyr Pankov, one of the people in the crowd during the ceremony, reflected, “the menorah represents miracles from the past, and it will bring miracles in the future as well. And I'm sure that it will bring miracles in Ukraine."

Before Russia's invasion, roughly 300,000 Jews were living in Ukraine. And 50,000 of them lived in the country’s capital.

Residents of Berlin also reflected on the war in Ukraine during the city’s own Hanukkah ceremony.

“In these hours of darkness, we can also see wonderful light. Putin will not reach his war aims in Ukraine,” said Germany’s Finance Minister, Christian Lindner.

“He has in us, in our societies, renewed solidity. And he has brought liberal democracies around the world closer together."

Additional sources • AFP