Just weeks after terrorists murdered 130 people on the streets of Paris, an estimated 6,000 people gathered tonight at the Eiffel Tower to watch the lighting of a 30-foot-tall menorah on the first night of Chanukah. The annual public menorah-lighting at the base of the iconic Eiffel Tower – a decades-old French tradition – is organized annually by Chabad-Lubavitch.
Before the event started, individuals milled about in the 50-degree weather – fairly mild for a European evening in December. Parents held young children, while others clapped along to the live music, waiting patiently as the crowd grew larger and the speakers became more animated. “Quelle joie extraordinaire!” – “What extraordinary joy!” rang out in the night air.
In addition to moving introductory speeches by officials, children recited the 12 pesukim with verve.
The first candle on the giant menorah was lit by Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, followed by a rousing rendition of “Maoz Tzur.”
In addition to the sizable crowd of local residents and guests, the event was attended by leaders of the French Jewish community, members of the Paris city council and representatives of the French government.