Related topics

An International Candle Lighting

December 27, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jews in the Soviet Union, the United States and three other countries were brought together by state-of-the-art technology to perform an ancient ritual - the lighting of the Hanukkah candles.

Satellites were used Tuesday to connect gatherings in Brooklyn, the Moscow Synagogue, Hyde Park in London, the Champs Elysees in Paris and at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Candles for the fifth night of the eight-night holiday were lighted in all five cities, and youths in the locations took turns reading biblical and Talmudic verses.

The 90-minute cable television transmission ended with a speech by Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher movement. Schneerson also handed out dimes to hundreds of youngsters at the movement’s world headquarters in Brooklyn in keeping with the tradition of giving coins, called Hanukkah gelt.

The candle in Jerusalem was lighted by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Mordehai Eliahu, one of Israel’s two chief rabbis.

Esther Bodzin, an 18-year-old seminary student from Detroit, was one of several thousand people who watched the ceremony in Jerusalem.

″I think it’s amazing. Look at all the people here. This one TV show is tying together the Jews from all over,″ she said.

Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, national director of the American Friends of Lubavitch, said the ceremony was arranged to mark the 40th anniversary of Schneerson’s leadership of the Lubavitcher movement.

Hanukkah commemorates the victory in 165 B.C. of a small band of Jews - the Maccabees - over the Greco-Syrian kingdom, which tried to impose its culture on the Jews and had desecrated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.

According to legend, when the Jews entered Jerusalem and tried to rekindle the Temple’s eternal flame, they found enough oil for one day, but the oil miraculously lasted eight days.

The $150,000 cost of the program was paid by investor Ronald O. Perelman, according to Shemtov.

Richard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Lubavitchers, said anyone with a home satellite dish could have seen the ceremony. He said he did not know what cable systems carried the ceremony.

Update hourly