Largest European Menorah Lit in Berlin's Victory Gate
Wednesday, with the start of Hanukkah, the largest hanukkiah (festive menorah lamp) in Europe was lit at the Brandenburg Gate (Victory Gate) in Berlin for the first time.
Lighting ceremonies were held worldwide for the first night of Hanukkah, including in Moscow across from the Kremlin.
Rabbi Yehuda Teichtel, Chabad emissary and rabbi of the Berlin Jewish community, lit the menorah, saying "the lighting at this location proves there's Jewish life in Germany."
Video from the event can be seen here:
Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag (parliament), spoke at the ceremony, reminding that "recently we marked 75 years since the (Nazi) pogrom 'night of broken glass' (Kristallnacht). In those times Germany left the cultured world for several years, and in those times many people had a good reason to believe that those events indicated the beginning of the complete end of Jewish life in Germany."
Lammert added "today, not for the first time, but for the tenth time, we are celebrating the holiday of Hanukkah here in Berlin...in the most central square of Berlin. It's a great expression of the changes that Berlin has seen since the Nazi regime."
Despite the positive change, Germany is currently under sharp criticism for its handling of a trove of valuable art looted by the Nazis discovered in February 2012.
A granddaughter of German painter Otto Dix, whose works were among those found, called Germany's response "scandalous," adding that Germany "has never really addressed the issue of works of art seized by the Nazis. It should have done that much earlier, soon after the war."
Hundreds of Berlin Jews attended the lighting event Wednesday, along with government representatives and ambassadors from the US, Russia, Moldava, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungaria to name a few.
Hanukkah will be bookended by massive menorah lightings this year. The largest menorah in Europe which began the holiday will be followed by the largest menorah in the world, to be lit by the Israel Electric Company in Tel Aviv on the last night of Hanukkah, December 4.