Prague marks the first day of Hanukkah with Menorah-lighting ceremonies

Two venues in the Czech capital will light candles to honor the first day of the Jewish Festival of Lights on Dec. 18. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.12.2022 07:52:00 (updated on 18.12.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Ed note: This article was updated to include more local Hanukkah celebrations.

Hanukkah is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish tradition. Also called the Festival of Lights, for eight days the Jewish community lights candles to mark the rededication of the Maccabean Temple in 164 BCE after three years of war. The only remaining jar of oil in the temple contained enough to burn for a single day. Miraculously, it burned for eight.

This year Hanukkah begins on Dec. 18. and runs through Dec. 26. In Prague, two significant Menorah-lighting celebrations will take place on Sunday evening.

The Memorial of Silence (Památník ticha) organizes its Light of New Hope Hanukkah (Světlo nové naděje) gathering from 6 p.m. at Prague's Bubny railway station. The first candles will be lit by regional rabbi Karol Efraim Sidon and superior Prague rabbi David Peter. The Šarbilach orchestra will provide musical accompaniment.

During World War II, the Praha-Bubny railway was the departure point for transports carrying tens of thousands of Prague’s Jewish inhabitants to the Nazi ghettoes, concentration camps, and extermination camps.

In recent years, the abandoned station in the city’s Holešovice district has become a cultural space where ongoing artistic events, organized by the Prague Shoah Memorial, have offered a critical reflection on this complex history.

This marks the fourth Menorah lighting at Bubny and possibly the last as construction of a new building for the Memorial of Silence is due to commence in 2023.

In addition to the candle lighting, the exhibition "Album G.T." will open on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibit represents previously unpublished photos of the Terezín ghetto. Entrance to the lighting and exhibition is free to the public.


The exhibition features dozens of newly discovered photographs from the Terezín ghetto found in the estate of former Czechoslovak Radio editor Milan Weiner.

The exhibition also includes eight large-format photographs of inhabitants of the former ghetto, whose identity the exhibit's organizers in cooperation with a number of historians, institutions, and the general public have been searching for more than a year.

In Prague, a giant Menorah is lit every year in front of the Rudolfinum; this year the lighting ceremony is scheduled to take place on Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. on Jan Palach Square.

In addition to the giant Menorah, the public is invited to enjoy music, dancing, dreidel, and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot).

The event is organized annually by the Chabad House, a center for the Jewish community in Prague.

Menorah lighting and Hanukkah celebrations in Prague will continue throughout the week. On Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. the Menorah will be lit at the Riegrovy Sady beer garden. Entry (and jelly doughnuts) are free. The mayor of Prague 2 will light the Menorah and music will be led by Rabbi Jair Jerochim.

On the same day at the Jerusalem Synagogue from 4 p.m., the fifth candle will be lit by David Peter, the chief rabbi of Prague. Children from the Feigele Theater and the Mackie Messer Klezmer Band will perform.

According to the Federation of Jewish Communities, about 3,000 to 5,000 people are registered members of the Jewish community in the Czech Republic, of which 1,600 live in Prague.

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