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No need to hide - Hanukkah in the USSR

תפוחי אדמה לחנוכה

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

Lena Rosovsky, a journalist who grew up in Moscow, tells a story about Hanukkah and about us. If any of you have stories like this, I would be glad to hear them. Lena writes as follows:

“In the Soviet Union, we celebrated Hanukkah every year with doors locked and windows closed. Tasty dishes, latkes, and draniki (Russian potato pancakes). But where was the menorah and the candles? These things were not sold in the stores. Our menorah was made from potatoes. Yes, yes, this was a well-known trick in those days. During the 1980’s in Moscow, my great-grandfather Gedaliyahu would make little holes with a teaspoon in potato halves and then fill the holes with oil and wicks.

And over these candles we would sing the Hanukkah blessings.

Our improvised menorah was never placed on a window sill. And neither was it placed at the center of our living room table, but in a side room, behind a closed door. If the neighbors should drop by, they would not see it .. better that they not see our light.

This is not only a personal story. This is how Jews lived. Dear friends, I know that the heart is heavy. I know that for many experiencing stress and anxiety, it’s hard to celebrate or to be joyful.

Hanukkah this year is different. The heart is crushed, the nerves are raw, and the soul is in tatters. But even so I find joy in my heart. I am happy that despite everything, I am here. We are here and we don’t have to hide our menorahs.

And this Hanukkah, we see the menorah’s light everywhere, even in Gaza.

Come, let us add more light for the miracles and the wonders that occurred in those days at this time. Amen.”


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