Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined West Coast Chabad, city officials and community leaders on Friday to usher in the Festival of Lights by illuminating the historic Katowitz Menorah at LA City Hall.
The 27th annual ceremony at LA City Hall took place on the landmark Spring Street Forecourt of City Hall, bringing holiday greetings to promote Chanukah’s universal message of freedom, hope, and light.
Israel Consul General David Seigel and City Councilwoman Jan Perry joined Mayor Villaraigosa and Chabad representatives to mark the festive occasion. The event was chaired by West Coast Chabad’s Rabbi Chaim Nochum Cunin. Greetings and remarks were given by Rabbi Zushe Cunin of Chabad of Pacific Palisades and Rabbi Moshe Greenwald of Chabad of Downtown L.A. The Menorah lighting was dedicated to Los Angeles children living in poverty, with a prayer and a redoubling of efforts to bring aid and shelter to their families.
At the festive occasion, Mayor Villaraigosa honored Chabad’s Residential Treatment Center in Los Angeles for its 40 years of lifesaving services to the community. The center’s director, Donna Miller accepted the award together with Rabbi Mendel Cunin, director of Chabad of Larchmont and a spiritual leader at the center.
“We are honored that Mayor Villaraigosa and city officials joined to bring the message and spirit of Chanukah to Los Angeles by illuminating the Menorah for the City of Angels,” said Rabbi Chaim Cunin. “The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, teaches us that in challenging times, the lights of Chanukah can shine brighter than ever when we embrace its vision of hope and light.”
During the celebration, Rabbi Cunin and the Mayor lit the candles in a unique Menorah that is being displayed in the City Hall Rotunda for the duration of Chanukah. The 150 year-old Katowitz Menorah has a special history as the only ritual object d’art left after Poland’s Great Katowitz Synagogue was burned in 1938 following the Nazi kristallnacht. The Menorah was saved from destruction by being hidden underground, and was later given as a gift to Chabad.
The ceremony featured a musical performances by the Shira Orchestra and Cheder Menachem Boys Choir. Traditional Chanukah foods and chocolate coins were enjoyed by guests and children in attendance, and all were encouraged to take a moment during during the Festival of Lights to bring cheer and toys to sick and needy children to lift their spirits during the holidays.
Chabad runs the largest network of educational and nonsectarian social services under Jewish auspices on the West Coast, and its representatives have joined with the Mayor and city officials each year since 1985 to illuminate a Menorah at City Hall for Chanukah.