A Survivor's NOLA Chanukah Experience

Friday, 16 December, 2011 - 2:23 am

One winter afternoon about ten years ago, an elderly Jewish guest staying at the Hilton Riverside hotel walked out onto the streets of New Orleans. Upon leaving the hotel something caught his ear. It was the sound of music. He followed the music across the street car tracks and into the Spanish Plaza at the Riverwalk. As he neared the plaza he realized that it was Jewish music, which explained his attraction to it. Upon entering, he gasped as he beheld a beautiful Menorah standing tall with hundreds of people standing around waiting for the lighting to commence. Overwhelmed with emotion he burst into tears. As he calmed down he sought out the organizer of the event and explained the reason for his emotional reaction. “I am,” he exclaimed, “a survivor of the Holocaust. I can never forget how we were hunted as Jews in Nazi Europe. Seeing Jews, my people, publically celebrating our holiday in a display of Jewish pride, has moved me deeply. Hearing Jewish music blasting in the streets has my heart quickening in joyous disbelief. This has been a real healing experience and I cannot thank you enough for hosting this event.”

This, my friends, is one of the many reasons why public Menorah lighting celebrations such as Chanukah @ Riverwalk are so important. For some it is a reminder that Chanukah is here. For others it is a source of pride in our heritage. For many it is a symbol of religious freedom. For that elderly visitor it represented Jewish survival.

This year Chanukah @ Riverwalk is being held on Thursday, Dec 22 4:30-6:30 PM. There will be a wonderful ceremony and exciting activities for people of all ages. Join together with hundreds of Jewish New Orleanians as we light the tall Menorah on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, attesting to the eternity of our people.

Just a short while ago, we concluded an inspiring gathering in honor of the 19th of Kislev. (See some pictures below.) G-d willing, after Chanukah I will share some of what transpired at this event.

This Sunday is the second Kosher Day @ Whole Foods Arabella Station. (See some pictures of last week below.) Stop by between 1-5 in the breezeway to say hello, enjoy some hot soup compliments of Kosher Cajun, and find out about Kosher at Whole Foods.

An exciting Chanukah week is kicking off with the Maccabi Torch relay on Sunday afternoon @ 4. Come cheer Yehudah Guterman, Jennie Cohen and Amy Shapiro who will be representing Chabad in the relay. The relay culminates at the JCC for a pre-Chanukah concert and dinner at 5 PM. On Tuesday night @ 7 PM the Krewe of Chanukah rides in the Mobile Menorah Parade followed by the parade party @ Chabad Uptown. On Wednesday afternoon, skate on over to Airline Skate Center for Latkes on Roller-skates at 4 PM. Join us at the Riverwalk on Thursday at 4:30 for the grand Menorah lighting. The Chabad Israeli Chanukah party is Saturday night at 8 PM and the Scavenger Hunt Game Night starts at 4:45 Pm on Sunday. For a full schedule go to

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: A Survivor's NOLA Chanukah Experience

Emmy wrote...

I found myself ndodnig my noggin all the way through.