How Ukrainian Jews are Celebrating Hanukkah This Year

In Maidan Square in Kyiv, the traditional Hanukkah lighting took place despite the war with Russia. Mayor Vitali Klitschko decided to continue the tradition to show that light can overcome darkness. Ambassadors from the US, Greece, the UK, and Germany were in attendance to show their support. The FJCU, headed by Rabbi Meir Stambler, distributed 47,000 kits of Hanukkah candles, hanukkiot, a booklet explaining the significance of the holiday, a coloring book for children, Hanukkah games for children, and snacks and sweets to 35,000 Jewish households across the country. Ksenia Levinsky from Dnieper said that the kits would bring light and festivity to her home, which was lacking due to the power outages caused by Russian attacks on energy facilities. Rabbi Shlomo Salomon from Kremenchuk said that despite the possibility of shelling again, they would stay to keep the light and hope alive. Rabbi Dov Axelrod from Cherkassy said he would make every effort to have Hanukkah celebrated this year with more light than in previous years.

The Jewish Federations of North America has been sponsoring dozens of initiatives to bring Hanukkah activities and celebrations to Jews affected by the war in Ukraine. They have sent Russian-speaking volunteers to support refugees, have sent Dr. Yuri Vedenyapin and Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich to bring music, song and the light of Hanukkah to refugees in various cities, and have sent mother-daughter volunteers Rabbi Ilana and Daniella Baird to lead educational programming on Hanukkah for refugees in Barcelona. The JDC is providing scores of online and in-person Hanukkah events across Ukraine, and Chabad is distributing more than 40,000 Hanukkah boxes filled with holiday supplies and treats to Jews throughout Ukraine with JFNA support.

This Hanukkah, Jews throughout Ukraine will be able to celebrate the holiday with activities and celebrations despite the war with Russia. The message of Hanukkah, that light can overcome darkness, will be spread around the country through these initiatives and will bring hope to countless Jews who are still living in difficult circumstances due to the war. The message that miracles can happen, that the few can defeat the many and the powerful, will be spread through the lighting of the menorah in Maidan Square in Kyiv and throughout the homes of Jewish families across the country. The efforts of the JFNA and its partner organizations will bring light and joy to Jewish homes and will help to keep the spirit of Hanukkah alive.


Jews of Ukraine will spread the light of Hanukkah despite the war. The Jerusalem Post | (n.d.).

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