Over 70 cars joined Chicago’s annual car menorah parade, which drove by the city’s famous landmarks led by an authentic US Army Hummer driven by uniformed soldiers.
Another Jewish Holiday and another Covid-19 challenge. Chanukah 5781 (2020) was certainly not going to be business as usual for Jews throughout the world.
Certainly, there would be Menorahs lit, latkes fried, and dreidels spun, all central to the celebration of this Festival. Pirsumei Nisa – publicizing the miracle – was a social distancing compliant challenge.
Unique to Chanukah is a specific dictate to publicize the miracle via any means possible.
Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, Executive Director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, and master of the annual car-topped Menorah parade was facing a dilemma. For years he spearheaded the annual celebration, always a highlight of the calendar.
How do we safely and celebratorily announce the Festival and its most relevant message of the power of light over darkness while keeping everyone safe and in compliance with current guidelines? And it has to be fun!
All around the Chabad world this mandate crept us a real challenge. Standard fare of public Chanukah parties and gatherings at large Menorah lightings at City Hall and shopping malls were the venue of choice for decades and were now shut off.
Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois scratched their heads and rolled up their sleeves and combined their decades of Jewish communal service and a brand new CDC approved, police escorted mobile menorah parade, and celebration was launched.
On Sunday, the fourth eve of Chanukah, more than 70 Mom’s taxis, Muscle cars and imports and domestic all-wheel-drives adorned with lit up Menorahs strapped to their rooftops headed out from the headquarters of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois snaking their way through the local neighborhood, stopping for children and adults to ooh and ahh at the long line of minivans and SUVs led by an authentic US Army Hummer driven by uniformed soldiers defying darkness with hope and enthusiasm.
Onto Lake Shore Drive and past the landmarks of Chicago’s magnificent mile and Navy Pier and onto the South Loop and into a designated parking lot welcomed with music and celebration. As each car pulled into the lot they received a serving of individually packed Chanukah donuts and chocolate gelt, and followed the uniformed attendants into a designated slot and tuned their FM radio to listen to the evening’s program, displayed on a giant 50-foot screen!
Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz welcomed the crowd with words of chizuk, showed a video with the Rebbe’s message on Chanukah and then introduced the Shliach Roshi, Rabbi Meir Moscowitz, to share a few words. He then called up Rabbi Epstein of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois who engaged the crowd with games and invited members of the US military to light the giant Menorah. The crowd watched and honked and hooted as they enjoyed a special fire show performance, followed by the 8th Day’s appearance on the giant wall and the crowd went wild.
Another great Chanukah event and the people all went home happy, inspired and impressed!