Despite a temperature that hovered near the freezing point, thousands of people from all across Berlin and beyond gathered in the shadow of Germany’s Brandenburg Gate on Dec. 16—the first night of Chanukah—to light a 30-foot giant menorah, which was newly constructed and inaugurated just last year.

Well above the crowd, Chabad-Lubavitch of Berlin’s director, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, was joined by German Interior Minister Dr. Thomas de Maiziere in a cherry picker that hoisted them high enough to kindle the first flame of what has been officially declared the tallest menorah in Europe.

For about a decade now, Chabad has lit a menorah on this site once marked by Nazi power, hatred and racism.

Many in the crowd below—representing a rainbow of communities—held torches, symbolizing their participation in the holiday ritual and exhibiting that light can overcome darkness.

Other dignitaries present included governing Mayor Michael Müller; Israeli Ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman; and German parliament members Maria Böhmer and Petra Pau.

Part of the program included people of all ages holding torches, symbolizing their participation in the holiday ritual and exhibiting that light can overcome darkness. (Photo: David Osipov)
Part of the program included people of all ages holding torches, symbolizing their participation in the holiday ritual and exhibiting that light can overcome darkness. (Photo: David Osipov)
The first night's candle shines boldly and brightly over a site once marked by Nazi hatred. (Photo: David Osipov)
The first night's candle shines boldly and brightly over a site once marked by Nazi hatred. (Photo: David Osipov)
Thousands attended the menorah lighting at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, despite near-freezing temperatures. (Photo: David Osipov)
Thousands attended the menorah lighting at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, despite near-freezing temperatures. (Photo: David Osipov)