Ukranian parliament celebrates Hanukkah

The event is the first of its kind to be held since the inauguration of the new Ukrainian government, including Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Chief Rabbi of Kiev Yonatan Markovich is seen lighting Hanukkah candles with Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Leon and other guests at the Verkhovna Rada. (photo credit: IAN DOBRONOSOV)
Chief Rabbi of Kiev Yonatan Markovich is seen lighting Hanukkah candles with Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Leon and other guests at the Verkhovna Rada.
(photo credit: IAN DOBRONOSOV)
The Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) hosted a special candle-lighting ceremony Friday night in celebration of Hanukkah.
The ceremony was the idea of Kiev's chief rabbi, Yonatan Markovich, and hosted over 200 guests, including high profile attendees such as Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Leon, Israel's honorary consul to Ukraine Oleg Vishnyakov, the group on inter-parliamentary relations with the State of Israel co-chairs Aleksander Kunitsky and Daniil Getmantsev and over 80 parliamentarians in the Ukranian government.
 “As a Jew born in Ukraine during a dark time in Jewish history, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, and the rabbi of Kiev, I am proud to stand here today in the country’s parliament on behalf of Ukraine’s Jewish community,” said Rabbi Markovich.“Hanukkah represents the victory of the Jewish people over a vast empire. It was possible because we were united and put our trust in God. A parliament is an institution that unites all the people of Ukraine. Everyone has a different viewpoint, but we must always stay united, if we want to defeat our enemies.”
The event is the first of its kind to be held since the inauguration of the new Ukrainian government, under Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"I warmly congratulate the Jewish community on Hanukkah, a holiday filled... joy, good deeds and sincere hopes," Zelensky said in a statement. "The light of the Hanukkah candles reminds us that strong faith and unwavering spirit help to overcome the most difficult of challenges.
"We will preserve our unity in the name of the future of Ukraine."
Further events are expected to be held by Jews throughout Ukraine in the coming days, in Kiev, Odessa, Dnipro, Lviv and Kharkov.