I’ve attended many Chanukah festivals in South Florida, but the Annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah Festival at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach is, to me, always the very best. This year it had been raining all day but knowing Chabad of South Broward, as I do, I never doubted that, rain or shine, the show would go on.
This year was memorable for the energy of all the participants who, along with Avraham Fried and the members of his orchestra and the YBO Band, joyously sang and danced in the rain. Fried performed with chassidishe warmth and humor. The night was so meaningful and so mesmerizing, the audience didn’t want it to end.
There were many elected officials who attended. Local mayors and commissioners, the sheriff of Broward County and members of his staff and members of the Florida Legislature came to the festival. The biggest surprise to the huge crowd was the participation of Florida Governor Rick Scott. The governor flew in especially for the event, which was on his birthday.
Rabbi Abraham Korf, head shaliach to the state of Florida since 1960, was honored as usual with lighting the first candle of the menorah. He danced the night away with the vigor and speed of a young yeshiva bachur.
Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, the Rebbe’s first shaliach to Broward County since 1980, enjoyed a lull in the downpour that allowed for renewed celebration. Rabbi Tennenhaus mentioned that a person had been so impressed that he pledged to cover the cost of the music and the star singer. The unsolicited donor had exclaimed, “I am a Jew who has been inspired. I have never seen anything like this in my life.”
The festival had it all: Rabbi Chazzan Yossi Lebovics singing the berachos on the menorah, 800 children receiving gelt and goodies, Avraham Fried singing Happy Birthday to the governor, a stunning venue at Gulfstream, Chabad broadcasting the festival around the world in High Definition and a modern-day miracle of a shining performance on a very stormy night.
For further information on Chabad of South Broward and its many activities, call 954-458-1877 or visit www.chabadsouthbroward.com.