Europe’s largest menorah is once again aglow as Germany celebrates the start of the Jewish Festival of Lights. Noting Germany’s dark history, President Steinmeier condemned the resurgence of anti-Semitic rhetoric.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal celebrated the beginning of Hanukkah on Sunday by lighting a massive menorah in Berlin.
Despite rainy weather, they lit the first light on the 10-meter (33-foot) menorah, which is the largest in Europe.
Steinmeier noted that the ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate comes 80 years after the Nazi’s anti-Jewish “Night of Broken Glass” pogrom and in the shadow of the Holocaust.
He said he was thankful for the Jewish communities in Germany, adding that “it is a gift that we can reach out to join hands over the chasm of our history.”
Condemnation of anti-Semitism
The history of the Nazi persecution of the Jews is “the obligation and the responsibility” of the Germans, “under which there will be no end,” he said.
Germany’s culture of remembrance and atonement for the Holocaust and Nazi crimes has come under fire in recent months by members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Steinmeier also condemned the anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate that has once again risen in Germany and across Europe in speeches, on the streets, at schools and online.
The Jewish festival of Hanukkah is an eight-day festival that celebrates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE as well as the miracle of the temple’s menorah which stayed lit for eight days despite there only being enough oil for one day.
During the festival, families gather together to light candles on their own menorahs, recite prayers, play games and eat fried foods.
The festival this year begins on the evening of December 2 and ends eight days later in the evening on December 10.
rs/jm (AFP, epd, KNA)