“God performs miracles both in the past and in the present. I believe that God will perform a miracle in Ukraine,” said the mayor of Kyiv.
By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner
Braving ongoing Russian bombardment and freezing winter temperatures, more than 100 people gathered in downtown Kyiv on Sunday night to celebrate the first night of the Chanukah holiday by lighting a menorah in the center of the Ukrainian capital.
Volunteers from the Jewish community distributed menorahs, candles, printed materials, family puzzle games and holiday sweets at the gathering, local media outlets including the Ukrainian broadcasting service Suspilne reported.
Among those who addressed the crowd was Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, who contrasted Chanukah as a festival of light with the darkness that is shrouding much of Ukraine as a result of the Russian onslaught against vital infrastructure.
“I wish the people of Ukraine everything that Chanukah symbolizes,” Brodsky declared. “I wish that every Ukrainian home will have light on. And I wish you victory.”
Also present was Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, who issued a defiant statement.
“Only the day before yesterday, once again, the aggressor tried to leave us without water, without heat and without light,” Klitschko told the crowd. “And today we are lighting one of the largest menorahs in Europe.”
He added that “God performs miracles both in the past and in the present. I believe that God will perform a miracle in Ukraine.”
Klitschko asserted that the lighting of the menorah sent a “symbolic message” to counter Russian propaganda denouncing Ukraine’s democratically-elected government as “Nazis.”
“This is a symbolic message to Russian propaganda as well – they issue claims about the ‘fascist regime,’ [we] light the biggest menorah and celebrate Chanukah,” he said.
Meir Stambler, head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, pointed to the resonance of the original Chanukah story, which records the Jewish resistance struggle against the Seleucid Empire 2,000 years ago, for his country’s current plight.
“Chanukah reminds us every year what it means to fight for independence, for values, for justice, but especially this year, we have all been living together for almost 10 months with a really brave fight for independence,” said Stambler. “And of course, just like the small group of Maccabees, no one gave them a chance to win and no one gave us, Ukraine, a chance either.”
Stambler added that “there will be victory for one reason — because we are fighting for the truth, for justice. The Almighty is with us.”
As well as a menorah, a giant Christmas tree will also be erected in Kyiv’s city center, Klitschko confirmed.
“We are also putting up our Christmas tree,” the mayor said. “We will not allow [the Russians] to steal the holiday of St. Nicholas, New Year, Christmas from our children.”
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