The lights of Chanukah came to City Hall today as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined with Chabad representatives to illuminate an historic Menorah inside the rotunda. During the festive mid-day celebration, the Mayor gathered with members of the L.A. City Council to share holiday greetings with the public and to promote Chanukah’s universal message of freedom, hope, and light.
“We are always excited to join with our Mayor and community leaders during Chanukah, and it is so inspiring to the Menorah shining here in the City of Angels,” said Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, head of Chabad of California. “Especially in these difficult times, when we face so many challenges and so much darkness, our response must always be to embrace hope and light.”
The Menorah candles were illuminated this year in memory of the victims of the recent terrorist attack on Mumbai, India — including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, the Chabad emissaries murdered while serving their community. Mumbai has been a sister city of Los Angeles since 1972, and during today’s event Rabbi Cunin presented the Mayor with a “Menorah of Freedom” as a gift from Chabad to the people of Los Angeles.
In addition to Mayor Villaraigosa and Rabbi Cunin, speakers in the rotunda included City Council members Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, and Wendy Greuel. Los Angeles Rabbi Moshe Greenwald from Chabad of the Historic Core served as the Master of Ceremonies.
The holiday ceremony featured a special musical performance by the girls of The Bais Chaya Mushka Music Ensemble. At the end of the celebration, donated toys were distributed to the guests, who were encouraged to give them to needy children to lift their spirits during the holidays. Corporate sponsorship for the event was generously provided by The Ralphs Fund as part of its charitable efforts to serve the community.
During the ceremony, participants lit the candles in he 150 year-old Katowitz Menorah, which 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.
Chabad representatives have joined with the Mayor of Los Angeles and members of the City Council each year since 1985 to illuminate a Menorah at City Hall for Chanukah.