The B’nai B’rith World Center and the Israeli non-profit organization Bridge of Gold will co-sponsor a festive menorah-lighting ceremony at the historic Hurva Synagogue in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City Jewish Quarter. The ceremony, marking the sixth day of the eight-day Chanukah holiday, will take place on Sunday, Dec. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Israel (12:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C. and 9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles). The ceremony will be streamed live on the B’nai B’rith International website at www.bnaibrith.org to allow Jewish communities, synagogues, institutions and families around the world to incorporate the ceremony into their own festivities.
Of particular significance to this holiday—which marks the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenists in 165 B.C.E. and the rededication of the Second Temple—the Jewish community of Salonika, Greece, nearly decimated by the Holocaust, will participate in the ceremony. Via video-conferencing, Salonika residents will light an antique menorah along with the participants at the Hurva.
Israel Defense Force soldiers, B’nai B’rith members, government officials and invited guests will also participate in the ceremony. Minister of Transportation and Road Safety Yisrael Katz will represent the Israeli government at the event. Scenes from the Jewish struggle for Jerusalem from antiquity to modern times will be showcased during the hour-long ceremony. The ceremony will include performances by the Jerusalem Cantors Choir and the Israel Police Band Wind Quintet.
“This ceremony provides a rare opportunity for Israel and Diaspora communities to share a joyous festival together. The striking setting of the Hurva Synagogue, just yards from the Temple Mount, is a perfect setting for celebrating together the triumph of few against the many, of Jewish self-determination and freedom in antiquity and today,” B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider said.
B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz will address the ceremony.
The Hurva Synagogue was first inaugurated in 1864. Known also by its full name, The Beit Ya’akov Synagogue in the Courtyard of the Ruin of Rabbi Yehuda Hassid, it became the largest, most magnificent and most important synagogue in Israel and the center of life in the Jewish Quarter. Two days after the Jewish Quarter fell to Jordan’s Arab Legion in May 1948, the synagogue was dynamited along with 57 other synagogues and yeshivot (Jewish religious seminaries) that functioned in the Old City. After Israel conquered Jerusalem in 1967, a commemorative arch was erected at the site to mark the destruction, itself becoming a prominent landmark of the Jewish Quarter. The plan to rebuild the synagogue in its 19th-century style received approval by the Israeli Government in 2000, and the newly rebuilt synagogue was dedicated on March 15, 2010.