Mamilla Mall: Chanukah is Finally Over

Giant Menorah that starred in week-long gala festivities has been dismantled; Chabad organizers begin to recuperate.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 18:38

DIsmantling the Menorah
DIsmantling the Menorah
Chabad of Talbiye

The 13-foot brass Menorah-with-many-tales, around which revolved nightly Chanukah festivities in a plush Jerusalem mall this month, has been taken down. With it were relegated to nostalgic memories and future anticipation the inspiring story of how it came to be fashioned.

For the fourth year running, Chabad of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbiya (near Liberty Bell Park) organized a nightly Chanukah extravaganza (every night except Shabbat) of this past holiday: Live music and dancing, celebrities, free holiday donuts, Chanukah insights, and lamp-lighting outside the up-scale stores and boutiques of the revamped and modernized Mamilla Mall. The name of the exciting, comprehensive project: "Chabad Lights Up Mamilla Ave."

The events of each night were dedicated to a different worthy cause: The families of fallen Operation Protective Edge soldiers, special needs children, new immigrants, lone soldiers, Hatzalah, and more. Lighting the lamp-candles were Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Shtern, Machon Feuerstein President Rafi Feuerstein, philanthropist and supermarket chain owner Rami Levy, and others.

The story behind the special Menorah, which was dismantled only yesterday, nearly a week after the end of Chanukah, begins with low expectations on the part of the Mamilla Mall organizers. When Rabbi Eli and Chana Canterman, Chabad's emissaries in Talbiye, approached the Mamilla people over four years ago and offered to run a Chanukah extravaganza, the woman in charge – let's call her Liat, a woman with a clearly secular lifestyle – tried to reject them politely. She explained that the small, cheapo Menorah that she envisioned would not do the fancy Mall justice... 

The Cantermans said, "And if we get you a large, striking, beautiful one, would you go for it?" Liat began to show interest, and she and Mrs. Canterman began to look at various designs. When a photo came up of the Lubavitcher Rebbe lighting his own Menorah, Liat said, "That's it! That's the one I want!" Mrs. Canterman was slightly surprised, as it was not the most handsome one they had seen, but she said, "Great! And we'll make it three times larger!"

Fast-forward past the rushed and nearly miraculous job of getting it done exactly to specifications, including flying in the original designer Mr. Hirsch Pekar from New York to work here with the Lerer Brothers silversmiths, and the last-minute installation of the 100% pure brass Menorah at the Mamilla site. The MC for the evening, a Chabadnik from northern Israel, had finished his first presentation, and Liat told Mrs. Canterman, "That man looks most familiar..." 

When the ceremony ended, Liat was about to walk up to the MC, when suddenly he came towards her, and said, "You are Liat, who was a student in my first-grade class when I taught in a Chabad school in the north many years ago! How are you?!" Liat was too incredulous to react, but then burst into tears of emotion – and said, "Now I know why I chose that Menorah! I learned about it in first grade, and it never left me!"

Other participants in the week-long Chanukah events that the Cantermans wish to mention – aside from the thousands who comprised the "audience" throughout the week – are: Rami Levy of Shivuk HaShikmah, the Rimon family of Café Rimon, Whispers Lingerie, and Friendship Circle of Central Jerusalem – each of which sponsored an entire evening's festivities; the Keren Or choir of sightless singers, Pirchei Miami, Yonatan Razel, Aharon Razel, the Solomon Brothers band, and Chazan David Caytak.

Also taking part were the Fraenkel, Shaer and Yifrach families (who lit candle-lamps and led the crowds in inspired dancing), the Jerusalem Klezmer Dancers, the Portnoy Brothers, candle-lighter 1st-Lt. Eitan Fund (who risked his life during the recent war in Gaza by running into a Hamas tunnel in an attempt to locate and save his missing comrade-in-arms Lt. Hadar Goldin, may G-d avenge his blood), Eli Beer of United Hatzalah, Rabbis Yaakov Wilhelm and Zev Dov Slonim, and many, many more.

One name the Cantermans didn't mention, but whom all the others involved recognized as the untiring force behind the entire week-long event, was the Cantermans themselves. They can be reached here.

photos by Max Richardson and Mendy Hechtman