Monday, December 26, 2005

First Light

From Here:

As the most eastern Jewish community in the northern hemisphere, the Jewish community of Magadan was the first to light Menorah at the outset of Chanukah. This public candle-lighting ceremony in Magadan gave way to Chanukah celebrations in various time zones around the world. While Sydney, Australia shares the same meridian longitude, Magadan is still the first city in the world to light the candles since it happens to be summer now in Australia and the sun goes down later than it does in the sub-Arctic zone where Magadan is located.

The first candle of Chanukah was lit on December 25th by the city’s Mayor, Yuri Kazetov. Other guests of honor will be involved in the candle-lighting ceremony for each day of the holiday. This is the first year in the city's history that the Jewish community, a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, erected a giant Menorah in the city's center allowing more people than ever before to celebrate Chanukah. This Menorah is rather unique in its design, having been constructed so that the lighting of candles entails a live flame in special torches. When that fire burns out, the electric lights automatically switch on.

Magadan is home to an estimated 1,500 Jews. While there is no local rabbi to serve this enthusiastic northern community, local Jews actively participate in programs of the FJC Russia. Under the leadership of Chairman Boris Levin, the local community carries out work in all key spheres of communal life – social, humanitarian, cultural, religious and educational.