The Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Fashion Island held a public Menorah Lighting ceremony in honor of the Festival of Lights on Sunday, Dec. 2 in Fashion Island’s Atrium Garden Court.
The celebration began with holiday musical performances by the Tarbut v’Torah day school choir and the musical group Orange Jews.
The community honored eight Holocaust Survivors who bravely illuminated the world for the eight decades since Kristallnacht, the onset of the Holocaust.
On November 9 to November 10, 1938, “Kristallnacht”, also called “Night of Broken Glass,” Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jews.
After this event, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly worse; Kristallnacht served as a tipping point, a sign that Nazi anti-Semitism was not a temporary predicament and would only intensify. These eight survivors serve as a beacon of hope, rising from the ashes of the Holocaust.
The eight survivors were each introduced to the crowd by Steven Silverstein, who recounted their incredible stories of survival. These accounts included spending time in labor camps, living in ghettos set up by the Nazis, being hidden by good and moral gentiles who themselves might have been killed for doing so, living in holes and scrounging for food for years, and escape under harrowing circumstances, all while not knowing if they would survive the next day. Some were but small children at the time.
“These heroic and determined individuals not only survived the darkness, they went on to thrive and illuminate the world around them. They came to the United States to build successful families, businesses, careers and legacies, showing by example that the best response to hate is love, the best response to the desecration of the human and divine spirit is a greater devotion to faith and a higher code of behavior, the best response to evil is to increase acts of goodness and kindness” said Rabbi Reuven Mintz of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life “The lessons of the events of Kristallnacht must continue to be learned and taken to heart by all people of good conscience.”
Each survivor was accompanied onto the stage by a child to light a candle, a literal and figurative passing of the torch, the continuity of their inspiring flames, from one generation to the next. They all participated in lighting the Menorah, and then each received a memento of the occasion, a personalized Star of David Menorah.
Chabad Center for Jewish Life is working diligently to bring warmth, joy and light of Chanukah with gifts to as many people as possible throughout the eight-day holiday. Staff and volunteers are visiting and conducting programs at hospitals, senior centers, convalescent homes and foster homes, bringing the warmth and joy of the holiday to those who are not able to participate with the larger community.
Chanukah, a celebration for all time, is highlighted by the kindling of the Menorah each night of the Holiday.
“It is a holiday that enriches our lives and strengthens our tradition”, said Rabbi Reuven Mintz of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life. “In ancient times, our ancestors rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, we rededicate ourselves to making this world a better and brighter place. Chanukah also transmits the universal message that ultimately good will prevail over evil, freedom over oppression and light over darkness.”