In face of terror, Paris Jews gather for public menorah lighting at Eiffel Tower


Just weeks after terrorists murdered 130 people on the streets of Paris, an estimated 6,000 people gathered at the Eiffel Tower to watch the lighting of a 30-foot-tall menorah on the first night of Chanucah in defiance of official warnings to keep a low profile.

The annual public lighting ceremony – organised by Paris Chabad – was particularly poignant this year.

“This year, Chanucah delivers a particularly relevant message,” said Rabbi Chaim Schneur Nisenbaum of the Complexe Scolaire Beth Haya Moushka school system in Paris. “In Paris, we very recently faced terrible attacks ... intended to put an end to the freedom of mind and opinion. In the historical times of Chanukah, the invaders of the land of Israel, the Greeks, had the same intention. But the Jews did not submit.

“They knew that light is stronger than obscurity, and that nobody can douse it.”

The Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia lit the first candle, children read Torah passages and the crowd sang and danced to Moaz Tzur. Among the 6,000 people present for the lighting was special guest - local residents, leaders of the French Jewish community, members of the Paris city council and representatives of the French government – was special guest Arnold Schwarzenegger, who told the crowd “good prevails over evil” and wished everyone a “Happy Chanucah!”

Police had recommended that Chabad not conduct public events in the city, but Chabad, in a statement on it’s website, said this “would be a capitulation to terror, a submission to darkness which the [Chanucah] lights are intended to dispel”. As such, police agreed to allow 19 public menorah lighting events to take place over the course of the eight-day holiday, under heavy security.

The Eiffel Tower event is one of more than 30 different public menorah-lighting celebrations taking place across Paris and in about 100 nearby towns.

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