The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky lit the first candle of Chanukah in his office today, together with Chabad Shluchim who also serve as rabbis of cities in Ukraine. The meeting and lighting was organized by the “Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine” (FJCU) headed by Chabad Shliach Rabbi Mayer Stambler.
After shaking the rabbis’ hands At the beginning of the meeting, Rabbi Stambler and his deputy, Rabbi Raphael Rothman, presented the president with a Menorah as well as a kippa on which “Adoni Hanasi” (Mr. President) was written on it in Ukrainian, with the state emblem.
Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, rabbi of Dnipro and the chief Chabad Shliach in the city, lit the fire in the exclusive menorah together with the president. Rabbi Kaminetzky: “The war in Ukraine is a Hanukkah miracle of our time, The few defeated the many.”
The event was also attended by Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, Rabbi of Kharkov, Rabbi Moshe Asman, Rabbi of Kyiv, Rabbi Jonatan Markovitz of Kyiv, Rabbi Mordechai Shlomo Bold, Rabbi of Lviv, Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm of Zhytimyr, Rabbi Yechiel Levitansky, Rabbi of Sumy, Rabbi Avraham Wolf, Rabbi of Odessa, Rabbi Mordechai Edri, Rabbi of Kryvyi Rih, where President Zelensky was born, Rabbi Mendel Wilhelm Rabbi of Uzhhorod and more. The Shluchim had also met with the President at the Jewish new year.
After lighting the candle, the president spoke with the rabbis and expressed to them his appreciation for their work with the Jews of the country throughout the years. The head of the “Federation” Rabbi Raphael Rutman told the president about the organization’s work on the Chanukah holiday, together with Chabad Shluchim including sending thousands of kits for the holiday to the Jews around the country, laying out public menorahs, placing menorahs on vehicles and billboards wishing a happy Chanukah, including details about Municipal public lighting.
At the meeting Rabbi Stambler said that despite the joy of the holiday, it is time to remember “our brothers and sisters who are held by the terrorist organization Hamas and to praise the heroism of the soldiers on the battlefield in Ukraine and in Gaza.”
Rabbi Stambler said at the end of the meeting that “President Zelensky said that he is sure that the light will defeat the darkness in Ukraine and in the Holy Land.”
The Chanukah holiday will be celebrated in Ukraine again this year by the country’s Jews. 42 thousand special kits for the holiday were distributed by the federation – which was founded more than 25 years ago, and brings together the approximately 180 Jewish communities in the country – in cooperation with Chabad Shluchim to Ukrainian Jewish soldiers on the front line of the war against Russia, to Jews in the 169 Jewish communities in Ukraine and to Jewish prisoners throughout the country.
This year, each kit was accompanied by an A4-sized poster with the name and details of an Israeli Hostage who is being held by the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza, with a brief explanation of all the Hostages and the entire war under the title Повернути домаш (“Bring them home”) in the Ukrainian language – and with the call to multiply light and kindness.
Also this year, hundreds of billboards about Hanukkah were posted on the streets of Ukrainian cities inviting the public to celebrate the holiday, and every day Chabad and the Federation representatives will conduct public lightings of Hanukkahs in the main squares of dozens of cities in the country.