Chabad of the Valley had another amazing success at its ninth annual Chanuka extravaganza at Universal Studios CityWalk.
“Look at the size of this crowd,” exclaimed Rabbi Yossi Malka of Chabad of Encino, as he ascended the lift to kindle the giant 15 foot menorah along with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villeragosa and other dignitaries. 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 and even unaffiliated Jews.
Event coordinators, Rabbi Yossi Baitelman of Chabad of Studio City, Rabbi Yochonon Baitelman of Chabad of Porter Ranch and Rabbi Nachman Abend of Chabad of North Hollywood stated that on any given day, many thousands of people find themselves visiting CityWalk. This, on top of the multitudes that flocked there specifically for this event, once again clearly created the largest Chanuka celebration in Southern California.
For 4 hours, from 5:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the first night of Chanuka, Universal Studios CityWalk was transformed into a “Chanuka Wonderland” with a vast array of entertainment, face painters, arts and crafts and kosher food galore. The onstage entertainment featured a live concert by numerous world-renowned artists with the main event being a rousing performance by Chassidic superstar Lipa Schmeltzer who dazzled the crowd with his song and dance routine in his own special way.
Other artists included Lenny Solomon of Shlock Rock and an exciting up and coming band called Pardes, which the crowd really loved.
The Cheder Menachem of Los Angeles Choir treated the crowd to a wonderful Chanuka performance under the able guidance of Leibel Cohen, Mendel Schwartz and Tzvika First. “There clearly was a broad kaleidoscope of entertainment and talent which appealed to people from all walks of life,” stated Jonathan Herzog, one of the producers of the evening.
Local dignitaries included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Israeli Consulate General Jacob Dayan as well as Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel, State Senator Fran Pavely and Los Angeles City Councilmen Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine. Larry Kuzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood, was on hand to officially welcome the crowd. Representatives from branches of the military and law enforcement addressed 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 Yehoshua B. Gordon and the Associate Director of Chabad of the Valley, Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder.
The enormous Jumbotron Astrovision screen, which is the central focal point of CityWalk, displayed all of the live onstage entertainment as well as numerous video clips produced by Ari Greene. 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.