From Dubai to hospitals: Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah

What would Hanukkah be without parties? That’s the question Jews around the world faced this winter, with the coronavirus pandemic making gatherings of any size unsafe.

Hanukkah in Sydney.  (photo credit: LISA MAREE WILLIANS/GETTY IMAGES)
Hanukkah in Sydney.
(photo credit: LISA MAREE WILLIANS/GETTY IMAGES)
What would Hanukkah be without parties? That’s the question Jews around the world faced this winter, with the coronavirus pandemic making gatherings of any size unsafe. But as with the other holidays that have taken place since the pandemic began in March, the celebrations adapted to meet the moment.
Here’s what that looked like.
1. Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
In Brooklyn, Rabbi-activist Yitzchok Moully, along with the Chabad-affiliated Hadas Gallery and Synagogue, created a Hanukkah wall mural for passersby to write on. The mural, which covers a 75-foot-wall, depicted local community members holding up candles, representing branches of the menorah.
People writing on the Hanukkah mural created rabbi & activist Yitzchok Moully. (COURTESY OF YOSSI ELIAV)People writing on the Hanukkah mural created rabbi & activist Yitzchok Moully. (COURTESY OF YOSSI ELIAV)
2. New York City
The car parade has become a feature of 2020 celebrations. In New York City, a group of Chabad Jews danced on top of a car in the center of Times Square on Dec. 14, 2020, while others drove around the city in vehicles decked out for the holiday.
A woman lights a Hanukkah menorah in New York's Time Square. (THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL)A woman lights a Hanukkah menorah in New York's Time Square. (THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL)
3. San Francisco
Chabad’s first public menorah-lighting took place in San Francisco’s Union Square 45 years ago. This year, the 22-foot Bill Graham “Mama” Menorah was illuminated to continue the tradition.
Hanukkah in San Francisco. (CHABAD OF SAN FRANCISCO)Hanukkah in San Francisco. (CHABAD OF SAN FRANCISCO)
4. Zoom, virtual
Rabbi David Booth of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto, California, convened a Zoom call  featuring one Conservative rabbi from every state, at the end of a year that included a presidential election that felt divisive to many. “This kind of national effort is a way to strengthen Judaism in all 50 states,” said Booth.
5. Sydney, Australia
Australia was emerging from a months-long lockdown as Hanukkah began allowing some in-person celebrations. Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Elton lit the menorah in The Great Synagogue on Dec. 17, 2020, in Sydney, two nights after Sydney resident Abra Kaplan held her infant son Roee watched the candles burn after lighting the menorah in her own home.
Hanukkah in Sydney. (LISA MAREE WILLIANS/GETTY IMAGES)Hanukkah in Sydney. (LISA MAREE WILLIANS/GETTY IMAGES)
6. Toronto, Canada
After Canadian officials placed the city of Toronto into a hard lockdown because of an increase in cases, some rabbis attached giant menorahs to their trucks and drove around the city, bringing the sight to Jews stuck inside their homes.
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
Medical staff workers lit Hanukkah candles and celebrated with patients at the COVID-19 isolation ward of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on Dec. 15, 2020.
8. Italy
The chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, lit the Hanukkah menorah on Dec. 15 in front of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, where thousands of patients with COVID-19 received treatment. The event was dedicated to the doctors and health workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, which hit Italy early and hard.
9. Casablanca, Morocco
A Moroccan rabbi, along with other members of Casablanca’s Jewish community, publicly lit the menorah in a ceremony that took place on the fifth night of Hanukkah, days after Israel announced that it would resume diplomatic relations with Morocco.
10. Needham, Massachusetts
On December 13, 2020, the Chabad of Needham organized car menorah parade. As the parade progressed from the Chabad Jewish Center, a woman took a selfie from the car’s passenger window on Dec. 13, 2020.
11. Hamburg, Germany
A crane was required to lift Rabbi Shmuel Havlin, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Hamburg, high enough to light his outdoor menorah. The lighting occurred on the Reesendamm Bridge at Jungfernstieg and was broadcast on Zoom.
A group of Israeli entrepreneurs celebrated Hanukkah for the first time at a hotel in Dubai on Dec. 10, 2020. In the two weeks since Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a historic peace deal, 50,000 Israelis have already visited.