Chanukah set to light up the scene
Pictured: Testing out the giant Chabad menorah in Sandton.
Even the remarkable DL Link – which looks after and arranges events for people in the community who are ill – went to town last Sunday with a menorah mosaicing event at the Art Shebeen in Linksfield.
The Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre is holding a concert entitled “I raise my eyes” which features two of South Africa’s well-known Jewish artists – Mark Samowitz and Johnny Sklar – on Thursday, December 10 and Sunday, December 13 at 20:00.
As always, Chabad will be illuminating South Africa with public menorah lightings throughout the country. In the Johannesburg area, multiple giant menorahs will be erected at Sandton City, Chabad CBD, KosherWorld, Norwood Mall and other locations.
Ushering in the festival on Sunday, a community-wide celebration for the first night of Chanukah, will take place outside the Rivonia Road entrance to Sandton City including a car menorah parade and many surprises. On the subsequent nights, menorah lightings will take place at each of the other locations with festive activities.
The Sandton Central menorah lighting at Chabad’s Goodness & Kindness Centre will feature a fire truck to help kindle the lights.
Chabad Seniors Club also hosts a Chanukah party for the “young at heart” on Wednesday, December 9 from 10:30 at Chabad House.
In Pretoria a grand menorah car parade and public menorah lighting take place on Sunday. The parade will begin at 18:30 and will leave from the Pretoria Hebrew Congregation, arriving at Wingate Park Country Club at about 19:30 where the community will continue its public menorah lighting and fun programme including hot latkes, doughnuts, delicious milchik food, music, loads of prizes and kids programme.
Waverley Shul in Johannesburg is arranging a novel Chanukah evening “Waverley’s Got Talent”, a talent contest, magician show and candle-making – for adults and children – from 17:30 on December 7.
The Durban United Hebrew Congregation (Great Synagogue) will be holding Chanukah celebrations at the synagogue on December 13 and at the Izinga Jewish Centre on Wednesday 9 at 18:00.
Chanukah 5776 will be commemorated by the Claremont Wynberg Hebrew Congregation in a different way. Calling them “modern day Maccabees” Joel Merris and Larry Sherman will share their story of returning to the stadium in Berlin to participate in the Olympic Games 80 years after Hitler systematically eliminated Jewish athletes from participating.
Marais Road Shul in Sea Point will be having a “magical” Chanukah evening for seniors with Cantor Ivor Joffe and Erez Shaked on December 10, while the shul will join Chabad on Sunday at Herzlia Weizmann Primary School from 17:30 with food stalls, rides and live entertainment.
The Northcliff Shul in Johannesburg will start its celebrations at 18:00 on Sunday. Says the shul’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Pesach Fishman: “This will include the lighting of our giant menorah, a braai, talk by former actor Adam Michels “From Hollywood to Israel” – on his journey from Tinseltown to the Holy Land. There will also be a children’s programme.
Rabbi Yehuda Stern, of the Sydenham/Highlands North Hebrew Congregation, draws the community’s attention to a novel “Lights and Strikes” Chanukah bash for young Jewish Johannesburgers, with free ten-pin bowling, pool tables, arcade games, a DJ, kosher shwarma and chips – and, of course Chanukah lighting.
Rabbi Kievman recounts the Chanukah story to underscore the importance of the celebration:
Chanukah recalls the victory, more than 2 100 years ago, of a militarily weak but spiritually strong Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on religious freedom, forcing the Jews to accept a foreign religion.
During the occupation of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Syrian Greeks desecrated the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service in the Temple. Upon recapturing the Temple from the Syrian Greeks, the Jewish people found only one jar of undefiled oil, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight days until new, pure olive oil was produced.
In honour of this miracle, the Jewish people celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting the eight-branched candelabra known as a menorah. It is usually placed in a highly visible location to publicise the miracle, with its message of hope and religious freedom to all.”