Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky led his 23rd annual Grand Menorah Lighting in the center of Vilnius on Wednesday evening 28 December, for (in Lithuanian Yiddish) di fínfte líkhtale, the fifth candle of Chanukah. The event attracted hundreds from different faiths who filled the square to celebrate harmony in the Lithuanian capital. It was addressed by Mayor Remigijus Šimašius and attended by diplomats from the embassies of Israel, Norway, Turkey, and the United States, among others, and dignitaries from the nation’s parliament, among them MP Emanuelis Zingeris, cofounder of the city’s Jewish museum.
MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE VILNIUS CITY-CENTER MENORAH:
The event seemed to succeed even more this year following various alleged attempts at sabotage. Many of the Vilnius Jewish residents present were visibly thrilled that Mayor Šimašius had boldly ignored some public calls, one from a Lithuanian academic, one from an unsigned piece on the official Jewish community website, and one from an antisemitic author, all of which imlpied that it was suddenly (after 22 years of previous universally beloved events) “controversial,” perhaps for featuring Rabbi Krinsky, who has recently been the target of a bizarre campaign of harassment.
A big part of the crowd comprised young people who particularly enjoyed the candle lighting, the smaller menorah of ice, and the large tent where traditional foods were served to hundreds of Vilnius residents. Chanukah menorahs were handed out to all who wanted one.
Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, resident Chabad rabbi in Vilnius, with Professor Pinchos Fridberg, one of the last prewar Vilna-born Jews in the country, at Rabbi Krinsky’s 23rd annual grand menorah. Professor Fridberg was Defending History’s 2014 Person of the Year. The 2016 award will be announced on New Year’s Day.
Some participants, including the regulars of the synagogue’s daily prayer group, then walked on to the second major event of the night, the annual Chanukah celebration at the Choral Synagogue featuring speeches by dignitaries, song and dance by a young ensemble, and festive holiday snacks, highlighted by the cantorial performance of Vilnius cantor Shmuel Yusem, and a learned discourse on the Chanukah candles by Rabbi Kalev Krelin. LJC report.