The Verkhovna Rada (or Rada, the supreme council or parliament of Ukraine) in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev hosted a pre-Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Friday.

It was the first event of its kind since the election of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, in April.

Chief Rabbi of Kiev Yonatan Markovich led the event attended by more than 200 guests, including Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Leon; Israeli honorary consul Oleg Vishnyakov; co-chairs of the group on inter-parliamentary relations with the State of Israel, Aleksander Kunitsky and Daniil Getmantsev; and 80 lawmakers representing various factions of the parliament.

“As a Jew born in Ukraine during a dark time in Jewish history, the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the rabbi of Kiev, I am proud to stand in the country’s parliament on behalf of Ukraine’s Jewish community,” said Markovich.“Hanukkah represents the victory of the Jewish people over a vast empire. It was possible because we were united and put our trust in God. A parliament is an institution that unites all the people of Ukraine. Everyone has a different viewpoint, but we must always stay united, if we want to defeat our enemies.”

The event in Verkhovna Rada is the first one to open a series of celebrations across the country.

Main festivities, with thousands of Jews expected to attend, are to take place in Kiev, Odessa, Dnepr, Lviv and Kharkov.

Chief Rabbi of Kiev Yonatan Markovich oversaw the lighting a menorah in the Verkhovna Rada (or Rada, the supreme council or parliament of Ukraine) in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev, as part of a pre-Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony on Dec. 20, 2019. To his left is Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo by Ian Dobronosov.

 

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