For eight feverish nights and days, L’Chaim Chabad rabbis and volunteers made their way from hospital to senior home, community centre to quiet street corner, house to prison cell, in an effort to bring the light of Chanukah to all Manchester Jews.
From giant menorahs, to tiny dreidels, car menorah parades to delicious doughnuts, hundreds of Chabad volunteers used every means at their disposal. “It’s been a whirlwind of a week,” said Rabbi Yisroel Cohen, director of L’Chaim. “While one rabbi was at a senior party, another was running a teenage paintball shooting party, while one rebbetzin was coordinating a Chanukah Mommy and Me program, and yet another was bringing a Chanukah kit to someone in the hospital.”
It was nearly impossible for a Manchester Jew not to be a part of Chabad’s activities, with eighteen Giant Menorahs displayed throughout the city, a seventy vehicle Car Menorah parade which made its way through city streets, and the ubiquitous Mitzvah Tank seen at shopping centres, business centres and clubs around town.
In all, Chabad Chanukah activities reached more than 10,000 people, thanks in large part to the dozens of students from the Lubavitch Yeshiva who took their contagious enthusiasm to the streets, and exemplified the joy of the festival. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe entrusted us with a mission to reach each and every Jew and share the message of Chanukah; that light prevails over darkness, goodness over evil,” said volunteer student, Motti Rubin. “We are privileged to have the opportunity to put our academic studies into practice.”
Chabad volunteers distributed more than 1,500 free menorah and candle kits, 4,200 holiday guides, 2,000 dreidels and 6,500 doughnuts. Chabad rabbis ran 27 Chanukah parties at senior centers, universities and schools. While hundreds of children enjoyed a Chanukah carnival featuring kid favorites such as rides, holiday treats and face painting, senior citizens were enjoying their own unique brand of Chanukah fun with L’Chaim volunteers.
Teenagers are often lost in the crowd of children’s, senior or family events, yet Rabbi Moshe Cohen, director of the newly formed Manchester CTeen chapter, ensured the young men enjoyed a memorable evening with thrilling games of paintball shooting, Karting, topped off with delicious barbecues. “The energy was incredible,” said Cohen.
Young girls enjoyed a Chanukah celebration with Rebbetzin Zeldie Cohen’s “Girls Zone.” The youngsters lit up the bowling alley with their Chanukah themed glowing necklaces, and showed their creative abilities creating sand art after a fun pizza party.
L’Chaim’s ability to liaise between all segments of community leadership, such as the Chief Rabbi’s office, synagogues, hospitals, educational facilities and chaplaincy boards was readily apparent. Said Mr. David Delew, CST Regional Director, “It is truly a pleasure to work with L’Chaim-Chabad. Of course, we thoroughly enjoyed our own Chanuka party with them.” The ability to cater to all age groups and demographics ensured programming that was current and relevant.
“While we’re tremendously proud of the grand scope of our Chanukah parties and accomplishments,” said Rabbi Yisroel Cohen, “thinking about the individuals; those we met in hospitals, rural neighborhoods, old age homes – to be able to brighten their days, to bring them a joyous Chanukah experience, that is the greatest honour and privilege one could ask for.
“All this was made possible by the dedication of the Yeshiva students and volunteers, and the support of the community and generous sponsors. We are grateful and inspired by their commitment.”