Kyrgyzstan Jews Bring in Festival of Light
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – On December 4th, with the beginning of Chanukah, local Jews and guests came out for a gala celebration hosted by the State Theater of Opera and Ballet. Organized by the Jewish community of Bishkek – a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS – the main hall was filled to the brink with people, warmth and light on this joyous occasion.
Chief Rabbi of Bishkek Arie Raichman had the honor of lighting the first candle of the Chanukah Menorah and opened the festivities with a moving speech on this holiday’s history and the power of light over darkness. Kyrgyzstan’s Minister of Education Ishengul Bolzhurova, who is no stranger to the local Jewish community, followed suit in offering best regards and commending the Jewish community on its development and contribution to multi-ethnic traditions in Kyrgyzstan. Rabbi Raichman, who serves in the region as a Chabad Lubavitch emissary, presented the Minister with a Chanukah Menorah in appreciation for her support.
Presentations were also made by Jewish community Chairman V.M. Shapiro and V.S. Kritsman, Director of the Ohr Avner Chabad Day School in Bishkek, followed by a lively show put on by Leonid Bukhman and a performance featuring an array of Jewish songs by K.R. Kurmangaz. Participants eventually broke out in dancing as the holiday’s merriment spread throughout the hall. The festivities finalized with attendees being treated to traditional Chanukah meals and sweets.