Over Chanukah, F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach held grand Menorah lightings for the 40th consecutive year in Brighton Beach Brooklyn, known as “Little Odessa.”
Every day, thousands of passersby on Brighton Beach’s main thoroughfare, walk by a 29-foot-tall permanent Menorah stationed in front of Chase Bank, next to the Oceana complex. An iconic landmark, the Menorah is installed by F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach.
The annual F.R.E.E. public Menorah lighting has been arranged by Rabbi Hershel Okonov for 40 years and has been ceremoniously lit on every night of Chanukah every year since its establishment. The popularity of the event, which regularly draws a crowd, stems from the significant symbolism Chanukah holds for Russian Jews to be free to publicly proclaim pride in their Judaism.
This year, on the first night of Chanukah, F.R.E.E. of Brighton Beach’s grand outdoor Menorah Lighting drew hundreds of families and children, along with many other curious onlookers, to see the permanent year-round symbol of Judaism finally lit.
Mr. Sam Shpelfogel, a longtime friend and supporter of F.R.E.E., was honored with lighting the Shamash. While The architect of the beautiful Menorah, Mr. Yakkov Fridman, was honored to light the first candle.
Soon after, lively traditional Chanukah music played loudly and the overflow crowd broke into joyous dancing right on the main avenue.
Also in attendance were Councilman Ari Kagan, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and Assemblyman Michael Novakhov.
Rabbi Hershel Okonov and his team of Shluchim gave out Chanukah gelt and dreidels to the children. Young Chabad yeshiva students came to help the local Shluchim give out Menorahs and introduce the crowd to Mitzvot that they can do.
One of the participants shared, “My parents brought me to this Menorah lighting when I was a little girl, it brings me so much joy to bring my children here today as they watch their grandfather going up to light the giant Menorah”
The Menorah Lighting was just one part of F.R.E.E.’s extensive holiday programming, as they have planned Chanukah events for all ages, including mivtzoim to the homes and buildings in the area, Chanukah family party, CTEEN Chanukah events and the beautiful Brighton Beach Menorah Parade and more.
F.R.E.E. will continue to host the Menorah Lighting every night of Chanukah at 6:00 pm