The 32nd annual South Florida Chassidic Chanukah took place on the 7th night of Chanukah and it was bigger and better than ever. Police estimated the crowd at between 12,000-13,000, with 10,000 on the main level and 2 to 3,000 on the second and third mezzanine levels.
A “who’s who” of community leaders participated in the Chanukah festival and giant menorah lighting. A delegation from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office included Alan Berkowitz and sergeants Don Prichard and Tomer Nader. Hollywood mayor Peter Bober, Hallandale vice-mayor Anthony Sanders and commissioner Alex Lewy joined in the festivities. The Broward Jewish Federation was represented by Bruce Yudewitz. Consul General from Israel and survivor Izzie Wolman joined in, along with media delegates Larry Blustein from the Sun Times and this writer, representing The Jewish Press.
Lighting the seven candles were community leaders Bernie Friedman, Jeff Rubenstein, David Schottenstein, Paul Sussman, Alon Ossip, the Mendal brothers, and Ronnie Cons. Musician Benny Friedman performed a live concert. His bestselling debut album “Taamu” was released in 2009 and has put him in high demand. Yisroel Amar, Nosson Zand and twin chassidic acrobats from France were also featured. Other highlights included the lighting of Florida’s largest menorah.
The event is produced and directed by Chabad of South Broward. Over forty sponsors helped make the mega-Chanukah event the success it was, along with shluchim and staff members Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, Rabbi Levi Tennenhaus, Rabbi Mordy Feiner, Aaron Kaufman, Adele Fisher, Yossy Kudan, and Margaret Schor.
The Chaya Aydel Seminary distributed Chanukah gelt, dreidels and chocolate gelt to two thousand young boys and girls. Chabad.org broadcast the event live around the world, with tens of thousands tuning in on every continent, for a Chanukah experience that will last a lifetime.