celebrating hanukkah at burj khalifa
- Author- Rose Mary
- Publish Date-
The sight of a 3-meter-high menorah on the backdrop of the tallest building in the world is a sight that has fascinated members of the Jewish community across the globe. The thought of Jewish life being celebrated on Arab land is both sentimental and joyous- and above all, a reflection of the post-Abraham Accords period that we live in. Celebrating Hanukkah at Burj Khalifa is such a joyous moment for the jews. Dubai's famous skyscraper Burj Khalifa lit up on 11 December'2020, the second day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday is also known as the Festival of Lights or Wonders, to commemorate the anniversary of the first night of Hanukkah in the UAE, and the first time the holiday has been publicly observed in the world since the historic Abraham Accords were signed with Israel. Events have been celebrated all over Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The message behind Hanukkah for Jews is to spread light over darkness, and the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel ends decades of metaphorical and figurative cultural and economic darkness between Israel and many of its Arab neighbors in many respects.
At the onset of the Maccabean revolts against the Seleucid Empire during the 2nd century BC, Hanukkah commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and the subsequent rededication of the Second Temple.
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The lighting of the menorah, consuming traditional meals, playing games, and offering presents were traditionally celebrated. This is not the first year in the UAE in which Hanukkah is being celebrated. Rather, it is the first time it has been publicly known and praised, and with the wider public of the UAE. "Ross Kriel, the current and first president of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, said, "I have marvelous memories of lighting the Hanukkah menorah in the desert.
This gave us privacy, but also allowed community lighting. Many of us were sleeping in the desert, and a camel caravan could move behind the menorah in the morning," added Kriel, an Oxford-educated lawyer from Dubai and originally from South Africa."
"We also thought that our exotic Hanukkah experience was a perfect reflection of Hanukkah's idea that Jewish identity prevails wherever it might be through the clear dedication of Jews igniting lights. In the UAE, this miracle took place over many years, dating back to 2010." This year, says Kriel, in a smart hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, the Jewish Council of the Emirates held its event in the heart of Dubai.
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"We have received expressions of support from the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, and there have been dignitaries and Israeli scholars, including Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center," Kriel told Arab News. Our new Lebanese-born senior Rabbi Abadie led the service, and we called on one of our good friends from the Emirates to light one of the candles. "In being 'public' as a Jewish community, we felt a deep sense of ease and naturalness at this moment," he said. "In the broad vision of its founders, Dubai and the UAE have an exceptional capacity to assimilate and lead change. In all senses, Dubai is a city of lights." Elli Kriel, the founder of Elli's Kosher Kitchen, which now provides kosher food to various hotels and restaurants in the UAE and is planning to open a kosher restaurant, said this year that Hanukkah is particularly special as the holiday can be publicly celebrated by Jews in Dubai.
We still celebrated Hanukkah in a peaceful and modest way in the UAE, not knowing how public we could be about our identity and traditions," Elli told Arab News. "But now, after normalization, everything is completely different, and this year we have to publicly celebrate Hanukkah." Elli explained how Jews in Dubai were able to eat kosher meals and light candles in public at restaurants in the UAE. We invited the Israelis and many other Jewish visitors, and I felt very relaxed and at ease following our traditions in UAE,' she said.
"There is so much excitement. The Israelis with whom I met were over the moon to be here. That was overwhelming,' she said. There's been a massive amount of hype about this for months and a very high level of emotion. I still pinch myself sometimes, because we had no clue at the beginning of the year that the normalization agreement would take place. Noticeable improvements have occurred in the UAE since the normalization of the Gulf nation with Israel was declared in August and officially signed in Washington DC on September 15.
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Hebrew can be heard in shopping centers, restaurants, beaches, and several luxury hotels in Dubai. More than 70,000 Israelis have now visited the UAE since the peace treaty was signed, the Times of Israel newspaper recently reported. During the Hanukkah period, an especially large number of Israelis were seen, many of whom traveled to the UAE to celebrate their festivals there.Ruth Wasserman Lande, founder and executive director of Ruth Strategic Consultancy, and former senior adviser to the late Israeli President Shimon Peres said, "It may sound like a cliché, but what's happening in the UAE is like Hanukkah, a moment of miracles of light"
There is a very wonderful thing about what is happening in the UAE. It is an enlightening one, breaking down boundaries and walls so that people can get to know each other, Arabs and Jews, added Lande, who visited Dubai for the first time at the beginning of December during Gitex Technology Week. "That's what came out of the Abraham Accords... It was so wonderful to be greeted as an Israeli at the airport, and to see that the Emiratis were not embarrassed or ashamed to have us here."
Celebrating Hanukkah at Burj Khalifa was a very special feeling for the Jews.