Chabad Rabbi Berel Lazer, fulfilled the commandment to publicize the miracle of Hanukkah in a big way Wednesday night: by lighting a giant hanukkiah outside of Moscow's Red Square in Russia.
Lazer made the blessing over the miracles "in those days and in these times," a traditional Hanukkah blessing over the candles, in front of a symbol of the modern miracle for Soviet Jewry: the downfall of the USSR.
The ceremony was broadcast live by tens of news sources, with thousands estimated to have been tuned in to the lighting over Russia and even in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the loose network of former Soviet countries.
Representatives from Russia's Jewish communities noted that "Jewish philosopher Karl Marx founded and spread Communism, which sought to erase every Jewish symbol and the fabric of religion itself. He could never have dreamed in his lifetime that a large, kosher hanukkiah would be lit in this very square, to honor the miracle of our independence from the dictatorships of the world."
One of the participants told Arutz Sheva, "it was freezing outside, a few degrees below zero. In Red square we lit the candles and could hear the words of the blessing being said, 'for us having lived and existed and can experience this moment.'" The blessing is said at the first ritual blessing of every Jewish holiday in the year on the first day, and is a reminder to be grateful for reaching every milestone.
"There was a roar of 'Amen!' from the crowd," he recalled.
"Despite the bitter cold, the masses did not give up on the spiritual experience," he continued. "when the candles were lit on a wide, decorated stage. The dancing that broke out immediately after captured the magnitude of the event and how special this time is for all of us."
The candlelighting was followed by a concert of hassidic music and attended by Chabad representatives in Moscow. Pictures capturing the event are below.