Channukah celebrates the endurance and tenacity of the Jewish people.
We celebrate Hashem’s protection and the realisation of the promise that if we remain true to ourselves, there is no power in the world that can extinguish the flame of Torah. This lesson was expressed in an incredible way at Beit Midrash Morasha this year, on the 5th night of Channukah (12 December) with a Menorah that survived the Holocaust, and has not been lit since.
During the Shoah, the Nazis plundered countless items of precious Judaica from the Jewish communities that they destroyed. After the Holocaust, the US Army distributed the recovered Judaica to communities around the world, including a Chanukah Menorah from 1800s Warsaw.
Appropriately, Ella Blumenthal lit the Menorah at the Channukah celebration. She is a Holocaust survivor who lives in Cape Town, is firmly committed to Jewish observance and plays an important role in Holocaust education. Ella survived the Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek, Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen.
The lighting was preceded by children’s activities, games and songs, and so when Ella lit the Menorah, she did so not only in memoriam of what was destroyed, but also in celebration of what has survived and flourished. She lit the Menorah surrounded by family and friends, a vibrant community and dozens of Jewish children singing the Maoz Tzur, the Chanukah song about Hashem’s protection and salvation. This Channukah, we celebrated light overcoming darkness
Thanks to Li Boiskin and the Cape Board for the loan of the Menorah and Gwynne Robins for the historical background.