«Jewish Observer»
December 2002
5763 Tevet

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Hanukkah was placed in the central thoroughfare of the Ukrainian capital and mayor of Kiev A.Omelchenko solemnly lit candles. The show in front of the Ukrainian House in European Square began as scheduled despite 7 degrees below zero (C).

The Ukrainian musical group "Beregynya" dressed in winter national clothes made everybody merry and happy. This gaiety unusually blended in the holiday of Hanukkah in Ukraine. Some thousand people who came to see the solemn lighting of the Third Hanukkah candle were warming up themselves through dancing under resonant Ukrainian melodies. Next after "Beregynya" came the municipal brass band, which performed together with a collective from the Kiev "Simkha" school several Jewish compositions. When the audience was substantially warmed up, mayor of Kiev Alexander Omelchenko lit Hanukkah candles. To underline the event's solemnity the choir of Ukraine's Ministry of Interior came onto the stage. As always, it struck the spectators with impeccable performing "Tum-balalaika" and "Khava Nagila". But the choir's main surprise became two Hanukkah songs of Hasidic annals purposely learnt to time the holiday: "Anerot alabu sheame madlikim" and "Maoz Tsur".

Then the girls from the "Simkha-KhaBaD" school presented the mayor and all participants with a tray of hot sweet doughnuts to be wonderfully welcome. Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich initiated the accompaniment of "Lekhaim" exclamations.

In his speech Alexander Omelchenko noted that the Ukrainian people, having long struggled for the right to speak their native tongue, managed to distinctly formulate their position with regard to national minorities. It is based on a golden rule of common human morals: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself". "By the number of Jewish schools, culture and scientific societies, intensity of religious life Kiev occupies one of leading places in Europe. Strength and might of Ukraine lies precisely in the unique character of national cultures. And I am convinced we shall never turn off this course", - underlined Kiev's mayor in his speech.

The ceremony participants were also greeted by the head of "Sokhnut" representation in Ukraine and Moldova Alex Kats, Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich, first secretary of Israel's Embassy Yefim Erlikh.

...Passengers of the flight "Tel-Aviv - Kiev" were pleasantly surprised when December 3 they arrived in Borispol and saw a ceremony of lighting a fifth Hanukkah candle in the airport international hall. This ceremony, as well as Hanukkah in Yevropeiskaya Square, was organized by the "Tseirei - KhaBaD" with the help of Jewish businessmen and management of the "Borispol" international terminal.

According to a KhaBaD representative in Kiev Gavriel Gordonov, passengers treated the celebration of Light in the airport with sympathy - at least, 200 consumed doughnuts testify to this...


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org