Chanukah lighting on Masada
Chanukah lighting on MasadaIsrael news photo: Yehuda Photography

The ancient synagogue atop the Judean desert fortress of Masada is not large, but it expanded on the eighth night of Chanukah to accommodate a crowd that joyously installed a new occupant – the first Torah scroll written on the mountain in two thousand years.

Chabad of the Dead Sea area joined with Masada National Park and its director, Eitan Campbell, to sponsor a public menorah lighting at the Western Palace atop the Judean Desert fortress. Singer David Broza, who performed a brief concert at the event, was honored with lighting a candle. So was Rabbi Yosef Albo, the Chief Rabbi of the nearby city of Arad, Eli Amitai, director of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority, and Dov Litavinoff, head of the Tamar Regional Council.

The event was a double celebration, with Chanukah lighting preceded by the completion of the writing of a Torah scroll that Rabbi shai Abramovich, a Torah scribe, had begun writing atop Masada on Chanukah one year ago. With the completion of one, came the immediate beginning of another: Abramovich will be busy in his special glass-enclosed chamber in the ancient synagogue for at least another year.

He too was honored with lighting one of the Chanukah candles, before the crowd accompanied the Torah he had inscribed, proudly carried under a wedding canopy in a procession to its new home in the ancient synagogue, where music and sufganiyot (Chanukah donuts -ed.) were served.

“It brings the tragic story of Masada full circle,” Elharar commented, “especially since the Ark Room is built directly over the burial place of the Torah scrolls of Masada. From this we can see the clear message that the People of Israel live!”