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A Far East Chanukah

A Far East Chanukah

Lights traditional and modern mark the beginning of Chanukah in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Republic.
Lights traditional and modern mark the beginning of Chanukah in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Republic.

( The Jewish community of Birobidjan, the capital of the Jewish Autonomous Republic of Russia's Far East, held what might be the biggest Chanukah celebration ever to occur in the district once planned by Josef Stalin to be a Yiddish-speaking homeland for Communist Jews.

Last Tuesday, Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Mordechai Shainer, the city's chief rabbi, and Mayor Alexander Binnikov lit a giant public menorah that will permanently be placed in the Birobidjan central square.

In addition, Jewish communal officials erected a 21-meter-tall electric menorah that is visible from any part of town, as well as locations well past the city limits. Designed by local community member Iosif Brener, the menorah of nine 500-watt lamps resembles a light house in the middle of the Russian Far East.

Regional governor Nikolai Volkov issued a congratulatory message on the occasion, noting that Chanukah marks the victory of light over darkness.

The Jewish community of Birobidjan is a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

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