As the first Chanukah lights were kindled on Tuesday evening, Dec. 16, the world gradually gained an enormous dose of physical and spiritual light throughout the globe, from east to west.

Here are highlights from menorah-lightings worldwide:

Auckland, New Zealand

(Photo: Jewish Federation of New Zealand)
(Photo: Jewish Federation of New Zealand)

Possibly the first public menorah-lighting of the year was held in New Zealand, where Chabad joined with the Jewish Federation of New Zealand to host a community-wide outdoor celebration in Auckland dubbed “Chanukah in the Park.”

Tel Aviv, Israel

Chanukah celebrations take on a deeper meaning in Israel, where the miracle unfolded more than two millennia ago. The hundreds of celebrants in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square sang and cheered as the menorah was lit by Geoffrey Anisman of the U.S. Embassy and Israeli Minister of Agriculture Yair Shamir.

Budapest, Hungary

Right in front of the Budapest-Nyugati Railway Terminal, the city’s Jewish community gathered for what has become an annual Hungarian-Jewish tradition. The lighting was followed by spirited dancing, capped with a stirring rendition of “Szol a Kakas Mar,” a Chassidic melody that blends Hebrew and Hungarian words poetically to tell the story of the Jewish exile.

London, England

(Photo: Sam Kaye)
(Photo: Sam Kaye)

Further to the west, Trafalgar Square was filled with some 7,500 revelers, who came together to celebrate the Festival of Lights with Chabad Lubavitch UK and the London Jewish Forum. Those assembled were greeted London Mayor Boris Johnson, in addition to other dignitaries and guests.


Down in Aruba, Holocaust survivor Sam Bradin kindled the first light of the menorah in front of 200 local residents and tourists at a Chanukah celebration held at the Ritz Carleton and sponsored by the newly established Chabad center there, co-directed by Rabbi Ahron and Chaya Blasberg. The plan is to light the menorah somewhere different every night, culminating with a family Chanukah party with Prime Minister Mike Eman in attendance.

New York, N.Y.

Perhaps one of the best-known lightings is that of the “World’s Largest Menorah” in Grand Army Plaza—at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue in front of the Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhattan—which adds a special sparkle to the “city that never sleeps.” The first lamp atop the 32-foot-high, gold-colored, 4,000-pound menorah was lit by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, accompanied by Rabbi Shmuel Butman of Lubavitch Youth Organization.

Regina, Canada

Enjoying the “balmy” weather of minus-10 degrees centigrade, a crowd of 250 came out to witness the lighting of a giant 25-foot menorah outside of the Saskatchewan legislature. Premier Brad Wall and Mayor Michael Fougere were in attendance.

West Hills, Calif.

For two Sundays before Chanukah, the CTeen youth group of Chabad of West Hills in California—co-directed by Rabbi Avi and Dena Rabin, shown here—collected as many as 3,000 cans and packages of dry goods to be donated to the homeless. On Tuesday night, they used a portion of the cans to make a giant “canorah,” which they proudly lit before they disassembled it and put all the items into seven giant donation barrels.

Sacramento, Calif.

Not far away in California’s capital, even driving rain couldn’t keep people away from watching the 20th-annual lighting of the giant menorah outside the Capitol building.