If press reports are to be believed, segments of Cherkassy, Ukraine, have developed a bitter taste to its Jewish population. Vandals even threw stones at a public menorah in the center of town by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Dov Axelrod last week, damaging a "Happy Chanukah" banner, one of the menorah's bulbs and a projector. According to JTA, the attack came three days after several local politicians criticized the location of the menorah for being near a monument to a Ukrainian national hero.

The thing is, says Axelrod, those who wanted to disrupt the public celebration of Chanukah only increased the spirit of the celebrations.

The giant electric menorah was placed, as it has every other year, outside the Druzhba Naradov Theater so that "the crowds exiting the theater could join in the public lighting of the menorah and celebrate the holiday with doughnuts, dancing and fireworks," said Axelrod, co-director with wife Chana of Chabad-Lubavitch of Cherkassy. "We continued to light even after the Dec. 8 attack."


According to the rabbi, police are investigating the incident, which comes on the heels of an attack two months ago against rabbinical students who had come to help with Sukkot celebrations. Swastikas were found spray-painted around the city after that attack.

But Jewish life in the large industrial city continues to thrive.

Its citizens are cautious, says Axelrod – who just celebrated the birth of a baby boy, his fifth child – but "we believe in G‑d and we continue."