Chabad of the Valley had another amazing success at its seventh annual Chanuka extravaganza at Universal Studios Citywalk.
“Look at the size of this crowd! This is the true definition of Hakhel!” said Rabbi Yossi Malka of Chabad of Encino as he ascended the lift to kindle the giant 15 foot menorah along with philanthropists Lyle Weisman and Gary Finder.
According to Rabbi Mayer Greene, the event’s emcee, the exciting concert and celebration had the participation of those who identify themselves as orthodox, conservative, reform or even unaffiliated Jews. In fact, many temples, day schools and other organizations encouraged their members to participate.
Event coordinators, Rabbi Yossi Baitelman of Chabad of Studio city, Rabbi Yochonon Baitelman of Chabad of Porter Ranch and Rrabbi Nachman Abend of Chabad of North Hollywood stated that on any given day, tens of thousands of people find themselves visiting CityWalk. This, on top of the thousands that flocked there specifically for this event, once again created the largest Chanuka celebration Los Angeles has ever seen.
For 4 hours on the first night of Chanuka, Universal Studios CityWalk was transformed into a “Chanuka Wonderland” with face painters, stilt walkers, arts and crafts and kosher food. The onstage entertainment featured a live concert by numerous world-renowned artists with the main event being a rousing performance by Chassidic superstar Mordechai Ben David.
Other artists performing were Pini Cohen, Levayatan, Facing East and Kenny Ellis. A fascinating demonstration of how to make olive oil was given by Rabbi Aharon Abend of Chabad of North Hollwood.
Local dignitaries included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles County Sherriff Leroy Baca and Israeli Consulate General Jacob Dayan. Representatives from branches of the military and law enforcement were on hand to address the crowd as well.
Also on hand to address the crowd were the Executive Director of Chabad of California Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, Executive Director of Chabad of the Valley, Rabbi Joshua B. Gordon and the Associate Director of Chabad of the Valley, Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder.
A touching tribute to Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg HY”D and the other victims of the Mumbai tragedy moved people to tears as they saw stirring pictures of their holy work and self-sacrifice as Chabad emissaries to Mumbai.
The enormous Jumbotron Astrovision screen, which is the central focal point of CityWalk, displayed all of the onstage entertainment. The highlight of the day, however, clearly was when the Rebbe was repeatedly shown on the giant screen. “To see a place like this so completely taken over by the light of Chanuka is truly the fulfillment of Pirsumei Nissa!” remarked Rabbi Yanky Kahn of Chabad of Tarzana.