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December 23, 2014 4:07 pm

Europe’s Biggest Menorah Stands at Brandenburg Gate in Germany Where Nazi Rallies Took Place

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Europe's largest menorah is erected in Berlin in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Rabbi Teichtal and the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere went up in a cherry picker to light the first Hanukkah candle on Dec. 16. Photo: Chabad.org.

Europe’s largest menorah is erected in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a site once marked by hatred and racism where Nazi rallies took place.

“In the center of Germany, Europe’s largest menorah and one of the largest menorahs in the world stands tall at over 30 feet saying that light will always at the end prevail,” said Rabbi Yeuhuda Teichtal, head of the Chabad Lubavitch orthodox community in Berlin. “The message is today, with all the challenges we face, with all the anti-Semitic acts we unfortunately have to experience, nevertheless we are here and we will continue with acts of goodness and kindness.”

Thousands of Berliners gathered outside on Dec. 16 to watch Teichtal and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere light the first Hanukkah candle on the menorah. Other dignitaries present at the ceremony included Mayor Michael Müller, Israeli Ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, and German parliament members Maria Böhmer and Petra Pau. Chabad has lit a menorah on same site for over a decade, Chabad.org reported.

Teichtal told NPR Berlin there is nothing more symbolic than lighting the candles in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which he described as “a center of darkness and of evil where Hitler stood.”

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“Today, 5,000 people, coming with the Minister of the Interior of Germany and the Mayor of Berlin, said that light will win over darkness and democracy over tyranny,” he said after the lighting ceremony on Dec. 16. He told the crowd that gathered, “We’re here and we’re proud, living in a land of democracy and respect.”

Teichtal moved to Germany from the U.S. 18 years ago because the country needed new rabbis, according to NPR Berlin. He set up Germany’s first yeshiva, or Jewish school, since the Nazis shut them down in the 1940s. New rabbis are now graduating in Germany at a new rabbinical college in Potsdam.

Germany’s Jewish community is widely considered to be the fastest growing Jewish community in the world, NPR Berlin reported. A few thousand Jews survived in Germany after World War II but now more than 200,000 live in the country. The biggest local community is in Berlin and includes many Israelis who moved to Germany from Tel Aviv.

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