President Zelensky Joins Shluchim for Menorah Lighting in His Office

Photos: Ukrainian Government Press Office

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lit the first Chanukah candle in his office on Thursday evening alongside Chabad shluchim who also serve as rabbis in various Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lit the first Chanukah candle in his office on Thursday evening alongside Chabad shluchim who also serve as rabbis in various Ukrainian cities. The initiative for the meeting and lighting came from the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine (FJCU), led by Chabad shliach Rabbi Meir Stambler.

Rabbi Shmuel Kamintzky, the chief rabbi of Dnipro and Chabad emissary in the city, joined the president in lighting the elegant menorah. Rabbi Kamintzky remarked that “the war in Ukraine is the Chanukah miracle of our time – where the many overcome the few.”

The event also saw the participation of Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, the chief rabbi of Kharkiv, Rabbi Moshe Asman from Kiev, Rabbi Yonatan Markowitz from Kiev, Rabbi Mordechai-Shlomo Bold, the chief rabbi of Lviv, Rabbi Avraham Wolf, the chief rabbi of Odessa, Rabbi Mordechai Adrei, the chief rabbi of Kryvyi Rih, the birthplace of President Zelensky, Rabbi Mendel Wilhelm, the chief rabbi of Uzhgorod, and others. It is worth noting that President Zelensky had previously met with shluchim in Ukraine ahead of Rosh Hashanah.

After lighting the candle, President Zelensky conversed with the rabbis and expressed his appreciation for their work with the Jewish community throughout the year. FJCU Chairman Rabbi Rafael Rutman briefed the president on the organization’s activities during Chanukah, including the distribution of special holiday packages to Jewish soldiers on the front lines against Russia, public menorah lightings, and the placement of Chanukah decorations on vehicles and street signs wishing a happy Chanukah.

During the meeting, Stambler mentioned that despite the festive occasion, it is crucial to remember “our brothers and sisters held captive by the Hamas terrorist organization and to acknowledge the bravery of the soldiers on the battlefield in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip.”

Stambler said “President Zelensky shared his belief that light will prevail over darkness in Ukraine and the Holy Land.”

Chanukah is celebrated in Ukraine by the country’s Jewish population, with the Federation of Jewish Communities distributing 42,000 special Chanukah kits in collaboration with Chabad shluchim. Established over 25 years ago, FJCU unites around 180 Jewish communities in Ukraine and collaborates with Chabad shluchim to support Jewish soldiers on the front lines, Jewish communities across Ukraine, and Jewish prisoners throughout the country.

This year, each Hanukkah kit includes a poster-sized A4 sheet featuring the name and details of an Israeli captive held by the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, along with a brief explanation of each captive’s situation. The overarching theme encourages increased awareness and empathy for the captives, emphasizing the call to “Bring Them Home” in Ukrainian, accompanied by a plea to increase light and kindness in their merit.

Throughout Ukrainian cities, hundreds of Chanukah-themed street signs inviting the public to celebrate the holiday have been displayed. Additionally, Chabad shluchim and FJCU will organize central menorah lightings in the main squares of dozens of cities across the country every day.

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