By Chaim Lehrer
The 40th Annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival, the World’s Largest Annual Chanukah Festival, which is one of the biggest Kiruv – outreach programs in the world, will be held the fourth night of Chanukah.
The date is set for Wednesday December 25th, at 7PM, at Gulfstream Park and Casino in Hallandale Beach. The Festival features the hottest Jewish music superstar Mordechai Shapiro. Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, Chabad’s Executive Vice President, reminds everyone that: Admission to the Festival, as always, is FREE!
Ever since the Festival moved to Gulfstream in 2007, crowds of 10,000 people and more have participated in the South Florida Chanukah Festival.
Looking at the events today, you start to wonder. The story of a little candle pushing away the monster of frightening darkness, of human sensibility overcoming terror and brute force, of life and growth overcoming destruction – the battle is very much alive within each of us, and in the world outside of us.
It reoccurs at every winter solstice, at every dawn of each day, with every photon of sunlight that breaks through the earth’s atmosphere bringing with it warmth and life-nurturing energy. With every breath of life, every cry of a newborn child, every blade of grass that breaks out from under the soil, every decision to do good in the face of evil, to be kind where there is cruelty, to build where others destroy, to move humanity forward when others pull us toward chaos. And that is Chanukah.
Chanukah is an eight-day spiritual journey. Many people know the story of Chanukah, but only as a historical pretext to give gifts and eat latkes. We can call that the body of Chanukah. The soul of Chanukah is its meditation, joy, warmth and light. Not only in our homes with our loved ones, but with the entire world. Our hope is that by igniting our souls, everybody will follow and light the world, one candle at a time.
Indeed, the lights of the Chanukah Menorah are a symbol of freedom from oppression, freedom from tyranny, and freedom of religion. It’s a reminder to people of all backgrounds, that a little bit of light removes much darkness.
In the past forty years, hundreds of individuals and families have become Shomer Shabbat, have sent their children to Jewish Day Schools, and have made Aliyah to Israel, thanks to their souls being ignited to Judaism FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, at the annual Chanukah Festival. Approximately 200,000 people have attended the South Florida Annual Chanukah Festival since 1980. Chabad of South Broward Headquarters holds the distinction of hosting and sponsoring the World’s Largest Annual Chanukah Festival for the past 40 years.
Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, Chabad’s Administrator since 1988, was actually inspired by a large public Menorah, back in the 1970’s, that brought him completely “back” to Torah and Mitzvos. “The impact of our Annual Chanukah Festival, is endless. We once had a father of a three month old boy call us, the day after our Chanukah Festival, and said that he wasn’t traditional and didn’t arrange a Bris Milah (circumcision) for his son. After attending our Chanukah Festival, this man was so inspired and proud to be a Jew, he had us arrange a Bris for his baby.”