Jewish festival of lights begins in Ukraine as battles rage

Dec 17, 2022, 3:23 PM | Updated: Dec 18, 2022, 1:49 pm
A couple walks through an empty Independence Square during an air raid alarm in Kyiv, Ukraine, Satu...

A couple walks through an empty Independence Square during an air raid alarm in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

              A couple walks through an empty Independence Square during an air raid alarm in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
            
              Ukrainians take photos of a newly built Christmas tree as partial power outages continue in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
            
              Ukrainian soldiers rest near their position in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
            
              Ukrainian soldiers rest near their position in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Jews in Ukraine waging a “war between darkness and light” lit a giant menorah on Sunday night to start the eight-day Hanukkah holiday as tens of thousands remained without electricity and Russia’s nearly 10-month war produced new victims.

Dozens gathered in Maidan Independence Square in the capital, Kyiv, at sundown to light the first candle of what local Jewish leaders say is Europe’s tallest menorah. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko joined ambassadors from Israel, the United States, Japan, Poland, Canada and France in a ceremony organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine. They sang blessings under the flames of the menorah, which towered over the crowd and passing cars in frigid weather.

Rabbi Mayer Stambler, a leader of Ukraine’s Jewish community, drew parallels to the story of Hanukkah, an eight-day commemoration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians more than 2,000 years ago. When only enough oil was available to keep the temple candles lit for one day and night, the oil inexplicably burned for eight days and eight nights — a feat now celebrated as the Jewish Festival of Lights.

“We are actually now living through the same situation,” said Stambler, drawing a parallel with the current blackouts in Ukraine that Russian bombardments have caused. “This is a war between darkness and light.”

In congratulating the world’s Jews on Hanukkah, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, also noted the holiday’s inspiration for his people.

“Those who were fewer defeated those who were more. Light defeated darkness. It will be the same this time,” he vowed in a video address late Sunday.

Among those watching the Kyiv menorah lighting was 47-year-old Viktoria Herman, who said the festival of lights brought her hope during the December days with the least sunlight of the year.

“There will be light and everything will be fine for everyone. And finally the war will end,” she said.

The Israeli ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, said: “I wish for the people of Ukraine all of that which Hanukkah symbolizes. I wish there was light on every Ukrainian house … and I wish you victory.”

Volunteers distributed thousands of menorahs, candles, printed materials, family puzzle games and sweets for the holiday to members of Ukraine’s Jewish minority population.

With the holiday symbolism as a backdrop, Ukraine’s state-owned power grid operator Ukrenergo said it was still working Sunday to restore electricity knocked out by Russian missile damage. The grid operator said the volume of electricity consumption increased compared to Saturday, due to falling temperatures.

Zelenskyy reported that power had been restored Sunday to 3 million Ukrainians, on top of 6 million the day before.

On the battlefield, Russian military forces on Sunday shelled the center of Kherson, the major city that Russian soldiers retreated from last month in one of Moscow’s biggest battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

Three people were wounded in the attacks, said presidential deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

The southern city and its surrounding region have come under frequent attack since the Russian pullback. Regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said Sunday that Russia had carried out 54 attacks with rocket, mortar and tank fire over the previous day, killing three people and wounding six.

In the city of Donetsk, capital of a region Russia illegally annexed, a Ukrainian attack that hit a hospital killed one patient and wounded several others, the Russian-installed mayor reported on the Telegram messaging app.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said Sunday that one person was killed and eight wounded in Ukrainian shelling of the region, which lies along Ukraine’s northern border.

In the latest phase of the war, Moscow’s forces have been heavily targeting infrastructure serving civilians, such as water and electricity supply lines, compounding Ukrainians’ suffering as winter deepens.

Zelenskyy used Sunday’s final match of the soccer World Cup to decry war.

“This World Cup proved time and again that different countries and different nationalities can decide who is the strongest in fair play but not in the playing with fire — on the green playing field, not on the red battlefield,” Zelenskyy said in an English video statement released hours before Argentina beat France 4-2 in a penalty shootout.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Jessica Day-Weaver holds a ceramic hand print of her daughter, Anastasia, at her home, Thursday, Fe...
Associated Press

‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies

Results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine. A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji. A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

India, France, UAE to work on climate change, biodiversity

NEW DELHI (AP) — India, France and the United Arab Emirates on Saturday agreed on a trilateral initiative to undertake energy projects with a focus on solar and nuclear sources, fight climate change and protect biodiversity, particularly in the Indian Ocean region. The countries will organize trilateral events in the framework of the Indian presidency […]
1 day ago
FILE - Mark Splonskowski assembles electronic poll book kits that voters will uses to sign in at po...
Associated Press

Electronic pollbook security raises concerns going into 2024

ATLANTA (AP) — They were blamed for long lines in Los Angeles during California’s 2020 presidential primary, triggered check-in delays in Columbus, Ohio, a few months later and were at the center of former President Donald Trump’s call for supporters to protest in Detroit during last November’s midterms. High-profile problems involving electronic pollbooks have opened […]
1 day ago
FILE - This Dec. 21, 2022, image provided by Eisai in January 2023 shows vials and packaging for th...
Associated Press

Why a new Alzheimer’s drug is having a slow US debut

The first drug to show that it slows Alzheimer’s is on sale, but treatment for most patients is still several months away. Two big factors behind the slow debut, experts say, are scant insurance coverage and a long setup time needed by many health systems. Patients who surmount those challenges will step to the head […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on the January jobs report in the Eisenhower Executive Office Bui...
Associated Press

State of the Union: Biden sees economic glow, GOP sees gloom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Going into Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden sees a nation with its future aglow. Republicans take a far bleaker view — that the country is beset by crushing debt and that Biden is largely responsible for inflation. And the GOP now holds a House majority intent on blocking […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Drawing nears for $700M Powerball prize, 10th biggest in US

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Another huge lottery jackpot will be on the line Saturday night for players willing to put up $2 against daunting odds of actually winning the top prize. The estimated $700 million Powerball jackpot is the 10th largest in U.S. lottery history and the latest in a string of huge lottery […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Jewish festival of lights begins in Ukraine as battles rage