Australia and Judaism Combine Celebrating 2020 Hanukkah Season
Cairns, QLD, —To celebrate the 2020 Chanukah season, Chabad North Queensland lit up a giant boomerang menorah at the Cairns Esplanade. The life size menorah, was constructed entirely of boomerangs and provided Cairns’ Jewish and wider community with a safe way to celebrate Chanukah amid the pandemic.
On Sunday the 13th of December, Chabad North QLD, an organization dedicated to spreading Jewish awareness and education, hosted this unique candle-lighting ceremony to promote Chanukah. This year’s menorah lighting is done with the recognition of the crucial need for a message of hope during what for many is a very difficult time. Chabad North QLD will also distribute menorahs, candles, and Chanukah-at-home kits to those celebrating at home.
The boomerang menorah was created with the blessings of the current elders of the Ydinji tribe, the native indigenous traditional owners of the Cairns esplanade and area, showing the shared cultural history of the two nations of which Chanukah represents.
“The menorah serves as a symbol of light and hope for us today amidst the darkness of the pandemic, as it did for generations before us,” said Rabbi Ari. “The flames of the menorah shine out into the night, reminding us that even when confronted with much darkness, a tiny light can dispel it all. Another act of goodness and kindness, another act of light, can make all the difference.”
This year, the holiday has added significance as so many will be isolated at home on Chanukah amid these difficult times. As the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—would often teach, the menorah is a reminder that light can be brought to the darkest of times, and uniquely, at the core of the holiday’s observance is sharing the light with others who may not be experiencing it.
To ensure everyone is safe, the menorah lighting was with full covid restrictions, with all participants distanced to ensure the outdoor event is safe. Following the menorah lighting ceremony, pre-packaged menorah kits and holiday treats-to-go will be distributed.
The Boomerang Menorah is part of the worldwide Chanukah campaign launched by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 1973. The campaign highlights and encourages the central theme of the holiday—publicizing the story of the Chanukah miracle and the victory of light over darkness, a message of hope greatly needed today. In the decades since the Rebbe’s Chanukah awareness campaign began it has revitalized widespread observance of the Festival of Lights and brought it to the mainstream, returning what some have mistakenly dismissed as a minor holiday to its roots as a public proclamation of the ultimate triumph of freedom over oppression.
This year has seen illness, death, quarantine, closures and business collapses, all amidst an overwhelming sense of sheer confusion and despair. In light of this heightened sense of urgency to share the message, spirit and hope of Chanukah, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement worldwide is preparing the largest Hanukkah awareness campaign in history.
This year’s global campaign will see Chabad reach 8 million Jews in more than 100 countries. With safety measures limiting many in-person gatherings, Chabad will erect some 15,000 large public menorahs, which will be seen by millions on streets and public squares around the world, including in front of landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Kremlin.
Chabad-organised menorah parades will see over 6,500 Hanukkah menorah-topped cars hit the road, bringing the Hanukkah message of hope and joy through the city and into residential neighborhoods, allowing families to safely share the joy and light of Hanukkah with pride. With many events curtailed, others opting for a drive-in model and many people isolating, Chabad will help families bring the light and celebration of Chanukah into their homes and will distribute approximately 32 million Chanukah candles, more than 700,000 menorah kits, 350,000 family at-home Chanukah kits and 2.5 million holiday guides in 17 languages.
Throughout the State of QLD, Chabad will be organizing other giant menorah displays Including a permanent display in the Cairns CBD on Shields St.
For more information about Hanukkah and a local schedule of events visit Chabadnorthqueensland.com/Hanukkah..
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Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, begins this year on the evening of Thursday, December 10 and concludes the evening of Friday, December 18. It recalls the victory of a militarily weak Jewish people who defeated the Syrian Greeks who had overrun ancient Israel and sought to impose restrictions on the Jewish way of life and prohibit religious freedom. They also desecrated and defiled the Temple and the oils prepared for the lighting of the menorah, which was part of the daily service. Upon recapturing the Temple only one jar of undefiled oil was found, enough to burn only one day, but it lasted miraculously for eight. In commemoration, Jews celebrate Chanukah for eight days by lighting an eight-branched candelabrum known as a menorah. Today, people of all faiths consider the holiday a symbol and message of the triumph of freedom over oppression, of spirit over matter, of light over darkness. Additional information about the Chanukah holiday is available at www.chabadnorthqueensland.com/Hanukkah.
ABOUT THE SPONSORING ORGANIZATION
Chabad North QLD inc. is a division of Chabad of RARA offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations.