'Maccabee' Havel remembered at Prague Chanucah ceremony

By Jennifer Lipman, December 22, 2011

The Jewish community of Prague paid tribute to the former leader of the Czech Republic at a Chanucah candlelighting ceremony.

Vaclav Havel, who died on Sunday at the age of 75, was praised during his presidency for his efforts to tackle antisemitism, further Holocaust education and encourage a revival in Jewish life after the Communist era.

Mr Havel was honoured on Wednesday evening in Prague, when the community lit candles for the second night of Chanucah. The leaders of the city’s Jewish community were joined by the mayor, the US ambassador and other officials in remembering Mr Havel.

Prague Chabad Rabbi Manis Barash described Mr Havel as "a modern-day Maccabee".

He said: "It was Mr Havel who said that 'truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred', and that’s really the message of Chanucah.

"So it’s special that we were able to do the menorah lighting to honour his memory."

This year marked the 14th time that Jews have gathered in the town centre for the festival since the Velvet Revolution.

Last updated: 3:47pm, December 22 2011