Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined West Coast Chabad’s Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, city officials and community leaders to illuminate the historic Menorah at City Hall today to usher in the Festival of Lights.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the lighting of the Menorah at Los Angeles City Hall. The annual festive ceremony, sponsored by Chabad of California, took place on the South Lawn and steps of City Hall, and brought holiday greetings to promote Chanukah’s universal message of freedom, hope, and light.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, City Councilmembers Tom LaBonge, Bill Rosendahl and Dennis Zine, and County Assessor John Noguez joined Mayor Villaraigosa and Rabbi Cunin to mark this historic and festive occasion. The event of emceed by Rabbi Moshe Greenwald, of Chabad in Downtown Los Angeles. Chabad dedicated this year’s Menorah lighting to the plight of the newly unemployed and their families, with a hope and prayer for a brighter tomorrow.
“We are so inspired to join with our Mayor and our elected officials at City Hall during Chanukah, and we look forward to seeing the Menorah shine brightly here in the City of Angels,” said Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, head of Chabad of California. “Especially in these very difficult times, when we face so many challenges and so much darkness, our response must always be to embrace 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 special musical performance by the Cheder Menachem Boys Choir. At the conclusion of the celebration, donated toys were distributed to the guests as part of Chabad’s “Reverse Toy Drive”, by which people encouraged to take the toys and then give them to sick or needy children to lift their spirits during the holidays.
Chabad, a community-based nonprofit organization whose efforts are rooted in traditional Jewish values, offers many programs to help the needy regardless of background or belief. 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.