Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinksy welcomed everyone at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius and began the celebration in song.
“Hanukkah is the festival of light and freedom. Light means going from darkness into light, light also means we must understand and see the soul in every person. When Jews are united, this is the true light. If we are praised, that does not mean the light. I want to invite all Jews living in Lithuania to celebrate together. We should celebrate our wonderful holy days together. We are one people, and if want not just to talk but to spread light, we ourselves must be the light, we must be united,” Rabbi Krinsky said.
“It’s great so many children are attending the celebration. They are celebrating happily on the second floor of the synagogue, you can hear happy voices from up there. Today a klezmer group will perform,” Rabbi Krinsky said, noting men and women dance separately during Hanukkah. “Hanukkah reminds us of the Jews’ struggle for our traditions, against efforts to assimilate them. Lithuanian Jews maintain Orthodox traditions with their families.”
Vilnius Jewish Religious Community chairman Simas Levinas also welcomed everyone, as did Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, who thanked Rabbi Krinsky, who has lived in Lithuania now for 24 years, for his recent activities, especially after becoming rabbi of the Vilnius synagogue. She also thanked his wife, rebbetzin Dina, who not only takes care of their large family, but also made food for the people at synagogue. The chairwoman apologized for earlier disagreements with Rabbi Krinsky and wished him and his family a wonderful holiday.
“Hanukkah is a holiday which reminds us of our Jewish identity, a holiday about the struggle for freedom and about us ourselves, how we should be united,” chairwoman Kukliansky said, adding that Jews now live in a free and democratic Lithuania, “and we have the right to our identity for which we’ve struggle so many years.”
She also took the opportunity to greet Lithuanian leaders on this joyful holiday, including the president, speaker of parliament and prime minister.
Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon also offered heart-felt greetings to the congregation, then said there had been enough speeches and began to sing a Hanukkah song.
The Rakija Klezmer Orkestar then launched into a fun melody and everyone began to dance. It was a Hanukkah celebration as it should be, fun and with the traditional foods.