Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman 370.
(photo credit: Israel Bardogo)
Throughout the eight days of Hanukka, which began Saturday night, several groups
around the country will be working to spread the glow and spirit of the
One such organization is Migdal Ohr, the renowned social
guidance and educational network established by Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman,
which will hold Hanukka candle-lighting ceremonies up and down the country for
the 6,000 disadvantaged children and youth associated with the
Grossman will attend several of the ceremonies and
distribute gifts to the youth in attendance.
In addition, approximately
500 Migdal Ohr children will accompany Grossman to the mass candle-lighting
ceremony Monday night at the Western Wall, where the rabbi will be lighting the
Another group getting into the Hanukka spirit is the
national-religious association of “religious start-up communities” that have
sprung up across Israel. The startup community in Lod, the biggest in the
country, with 500 families, will be conducting a series of activities in the
city during the festival.
So-called “religious start-up communities” have
been established around the country by the Communities Foundation to contribute
to the educational and Zionistic life and culture of development towns and
Like Migdal Ohr, candle-lighting ceremonies will
feature heavily in the program, with members of the community lighting the
hanukkia in four separate neighborhoods of Lod.
City dignitaries will be
in attendance, including Mayor Meir Nitzan. Traditional doughnuts, known as
sufganiot, will be distributed, and general merriment involving singing and
dancing will be encouraged after the religious rituals are completed.
children and elderly of Lod will also be well-catered for over the holiday by
the start-up community.
Candle-lighting ceremonies will be conducted in
one of the city’s homes for the elderly, while several theater shows will be
staged for children, including a production of Aladdin for close to 450
Grossman, a Pinsk Karlin hassid, became known in the 1970s as
the “Discotheque Rabbi” due to his propensity at the time for going to
nightclubs in his town of Migdal Ha’emek to converse with the community’s
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post
, he said that Hanukka was a time
to connect to Jewish spirituality and the Torah, since it was the Hellenizing
influence of Seleucid Greeks that formed the historical background to the
struggle of the Maccabees, whose eventual victory the holiday
To emphasize this, Grossman told a story that happened to him
several years ago.
While strolling down London’s Finchley Road one
Hanukka season, he was accosted by a group of Hebrew-speaking youths who asked
him if he was the Discotheque Rabbi. One started asking about a non-Jewish
girlfriend he was thinking about marrying, and if it was important or not to
marry within his faith.
The group was on its way to a nightclub, so
Grossman joined up with them later that evening, having first obtained a
hanukkia and Hanukka candles.
“I entered the nightclub, with all the
music and dancing and alcohol, and I found the group of youngsters I’d been
talking to and we lit the hanukkia together, said the blessings and sang Maoz
Tzur,” the rabbi recounted.
“I told the young man who had asked me about
his girlfriend that he had grown up in the Land of Israel with his people, the
people of Israel, but that now he had moved away from his roots, his land and
his people,” he said.
“We sat in the club till four in the morning and I
explained that Hanukka is the time to reconnect to our people and our heritage,”
“I understand that he eventually returned to Israel.”