How Chanukah is Secretly Celebrated in Hostile Countries

Hundreds of Chanuka kits have been distributed to Jews living in hostile lands, including Libya, Iraq, and Yemen. It included a new Arab language film explaining why we celebrate and how to light the menorah.

Yad L’Achim has been operating in recent years among Jews living in Arab countries and Arabic-speaking Jews around the world. This is alongside its extensive activities with Arabic-speaking Jews in refugee camps who were born to Jewish mothers and who yearn to reclaim their identity and connect to their people. The organization provides them with information on Judaism in Arabic and with religious assistance of varying kinds – including Torah classes over the phone and packages with sacred objects needed for the holidays.

To meet the growing need for information on Judaism, they teamed up with the Yehaduton Channel – which has produced dozens of educational films for Jews translated into a variety of languages – and recruited Arabic-speaking actors to provide dubbing for a film on Chanukah.

The film explains why we celebrate the holiday, how to light the menorah, what other customs are observed on the holiday, and more. They distributed the film through the internet and sent it out to the hundreds of Jews it is in contact with, asking them to pass it on to other Jews. 

At the same time, the organization delivered hundreds of Chanukah kits – through a third country – to Jews in enemy lands, including Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Kurdistan. The kits include menorahs, the text of the blessings for candle-lighting, and more.

Amir, a member of the organization who speaks fluent Arabic, says that “Jews in Arab lands mostly live in fear and observe their Judaism in secret. We help some of them move to Israel, but we also help those who want to remain in their homelands and live as Jews in secret. We are always being called on to find creative ways to deliver kits that can’t be obtained in these countries. Sometimes it will be the four species for Sukkos, sometimes it’s Chanukiyot.”

Another senior official added “Our slogan, ‘We don’t give up on even a single Jew,’ explains why we make such supreme efforts to reach every Jewish man and woman who asks for our help to return to the Jewish people.”

The Arabic film, in cooperation with the Yehaduton Channel, can be viewed here.

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