UZHGOROD, Ukraine - The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, like others across the Former Soviet Union, is busy with Chanukah celebrations this week. The first of these got underway on December 25th, setting the eight-day festival off to a good start with a music concert. With the Synagogue full of guests, community Chairman Ivan Moskovich told the history of Chanukah, while children received Chanuke Gelt.
Everybody then migrated to the nearby Regional Philharmonic Hall, where the main part of the festivity took place. This building, erected in 1904 by local Jews and used by the Jewish community right until the beginning of World War Two, previously housed a Synagogue.
The Chief Rabbi of Uzhgorod, Menachem Mendel Taichman, gave the opening address of the event. Mayor Victor Pogorelov and representatives of all Jewish organizations operating in the city took turns extending congratulations during the gala event. Following the Mayor's speech, in which he expressed hope that this building would soon be returned to the Jewish community, Rabbi Taichman presented him a silver Menorah.
The audience enjoyed a performance by Tzvi Girsh Tzatzkes, the Cantor of Brooklyn's Central Synagogue and former soloist of 'Moskoncert'. In a high-spirited atmosphere, community members felt free to join the guest in singing popular songs in Russian, English and Hebrew. Youngsters from the 'Ohr Avner Yaldei Menachem' Kindergarten aslo successfully presented their performance and everyone - both young and old - enjoyed traditional doughnuts.
The Jewish community of Uzhgorod, a member of FJC Ukraine, handed out gifts to everyone present - Chanukah Menorahs and a copy of the monthly newspaper 'Gut Shabbes', issued by the local community.