"Shabbat Shalom from Bangkok"

Shabbat Shalom! 8th Day of Chanukah

By the Grace of G-d

When I was seventeen years old, growing up in Melbourne, the Rebbe sent an urgent message to his followers around the globe to do even more for spreading the message of Chanukah. In particular the Rebbe was urging us to place more Menorahs in public spaces where the message could be spread to many people.

We got the message in Australia on Thursday. There was a ‘farbrengen’ at the home of one of the Rabbi’s on Thursday night. This was already the seventh night of Chanukah. A lot of nice activities had been done. A sizeable amount of public menorahs were on display around town. 

But there was no ‘back patting’ that night. The consensus was, that as much as we thought Melbourne was impacted by Chanukah, there was still a way to go. The pragmatic Rabbi who was leading the discussion was emphatic that we needed to do more. And that we could do more.

The way he put it, the Rebbe was pushing us to reach new heights.

And, when a Rebbe ‘pushes’ it means that he also empowers.

The Chassidic gathering of song, study and camaraderie now turned into a ‘war room’ directing the battle of spreading light through Chanukah in an intensified way.

Locations where public Menorahs could be placed were drawn up.

Oh, we didn’t have menorahs. We would build them. Overnight we became Menorah builders. A basic sketch was drawn up, teaching how to make Menorahs from equipment found in any plumbing materials store. By the time we had finished planning it was almost morning.

I do not recall if we slept that night or not. I do remember that we worked all Friday from early morning.  Cutting tubes. Gluing them. Painting them gold. Wiring them with electric bulbs.

Finally, there were Menorahs. Enough to make a splash in Melbourne.

Now we needed to put them up.

I was part of the team dispatched to a Synagogue that was right near a major bustling highway. We figured out that the best place to position the Menorah was on the roof!!!! This way the cars driving down the highway would all see the illuminated Menorah on the one story Synagogue building. As the sun was slowly inching down on the horizon on the long summer Friday (in Australia Chanukah is a summer holiday) me and other boys and men were on roofs, in front of community centers and traveling to remote locales, to put up Menorahs and spread the light of Chanukah. All across Melbourne. All across Australia. And all across the world.

The impact in terms of Jewish inspiration from that marathon of spreading light was epic. Far beyond anything we simple people can comprehend.

I don’t know how many menorahs were kindled around the globe during those forty-eight hours since the Rebbe sent out his request but later a book was published with hundreds of locations.

What I do know, is that MY menorah was kindled.

In hindsight of several decades, I now realize that this was the first serious Chabad outreach initiative I had played an ‘adult role’ in. 

When the Rebbe later said how pleased he was at the result and conveyed his appreciation to those who had toiled and exerted themselves, I felt like it was directed at me. And it was. So did many hundreds of others, and they too were right. The Rebbe’s kudos were to them too. 

Thinking back, this was a pivotal moment. For me. My Menorah was kindled. 

And thank G-d those flames continue to burn.

Chanukah doesn’t end after eight nights. The ritual of lighting candles indeed is only for eight days. But the inspiration and the light and the pursuit of goodness only gets more and more intensified!!!!

From year to year Chanukah is more meaningful and empowering to me.

This year though, is even more special. Chanukah means more to me than ever before.

I have observed that this is the case with many others too.

People showed up at our celebration that don’t usually come.

People that don’t always kindle menorah’s have sent me pictures of their menorah lightings. 

I have noticed a heightened observance this year.

Clearly, we all want, need and are ravenous for LIGHT. 

Chanukah reminds us that LIGHT WILL WIN!!!!

If it needs a miracle to happen,


Do your part to make a miracle by putting forth your best effort.

Mashiach will come as a result of our collective efforts.

And then we will kindle the ‘real Menorah’ in the third Bet Hamikdash, AMEN

Happy Eighth Day of Chanukah….

And as Chanukah exits, Shabbat enters….


Rabbi Yosef Kantor


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