New York, NY — This Chanukah, for the first time ever, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is hosting A Great Miracle Happened Here, a new event series highlighting Jewish communities from around the world. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, through a series of video packages, audiences will get an inside look at the rich history, culture, and traditions of Jewish New York City, Morocco, Ukraine, Estonia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Poland, and Latin America. Beginning on November 28th, each night’s video will go live at 7 p.m. EST on JDC’s Facebook page and on the event website: https://chanukah.jdc.org/
“Here at JDC, we are privileged to bear witness to modern Jewish miracles taking place around the world every day, from Kyiv to Dubai, from Buenos Aires to Casablanca. By sharing these global stories of resilience, inspiration, and diverse Jewish life, we’ll spread light in the darkness and build a brighter tomorrow for Jewish people and communities everywhere,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang.
The first night’s kickoff event from New York City will be hosted by acclaimed author Dara Horn and will feature special guests including Food Network host Molly Yeh, American Israeli rapper Nissim Black, Park Avenue Synagogue’s Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, and JDC CEO Ariel Zwang.
The following seven nights will each be hosted by a notable woman leader from the featured community, who will guide audiences through that location’s story, including anecdotes of JDC’s work sustaining needy Jews and building Jewish life and a special address by JDC President Mark Sisisky in the third night’s focus on Ukraine. JDC’s global work is made possible through partnerships with the Claims Conference and JFNA and the Jewish Federations, among others. Each night will conclude with a candle-lighting ceremony.
Highlights from the series include:
- Second night, Morocco: Hosted by Dorith Benmoha, a passionate and lifelong member of Morocco’s Jewish community, Dorith gives audiences an inside look at the Morocco she loves, including a recipe demonstration for “Sfenj,” the traditional Moroccan doughnut.
- Third night, Ukraine: Hosted by 30-year-old Victoria Turzhanska, head of the program department at the JDC-supported Halom JCC in Kyiv. The evening includes a profile of Zinaida Grutman, an 87-year-old retired librarian and Holocaust survivor, who receives material support from JDC together with its longtime partner, the Claims Conference.
- Fourth night, Estonia: Hosted by Irina Shlick, senior program manager at the JCC Tallinn where she gives audiences a tour, including a playful “mannequin challenge” montage in a country whose Jewish community was decimated during WWII and has emerged from that history revitalized.
- Fifth night, United Arab Emirates: Hosted by Reva Gorelick, the 2021 JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps Fellow, who will take audiences 47 stories above the Persian Gulf for a Dubai candle-lighting.
- Sixth night, Israel: Hosted by Avital Elfant Filler, community development and partnership manager at Hackaveret, JDC’s social innovation hub in Lod. In celebration of the UN’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, Israel’s video will include a special focus on disabilities — highlighting an entrepreneur who developed signNow, an on-demand sign language translation app for the deaf community. Israel’s video will go live at 3 p.m. EST, ahead of Shabbat, and will include a Shabbat candle-lighting.
- Seventh night, Poland: Marta Saracyn, JCC Warsaw’s program and communications director, hosts the evening which includes commentary from young Jewish professionals on the thriving Jewish life in Poland, home to one of Europe’s most fabled Jewish communities.
- Eighth night, Latin America: The event’s final evening will be hosted by Analucía Lopezrevoredo — founder of Jewtina y Co, an organization that seeks to nurture and celebrate Latin-Jewish community, identity, leadership, and resiliency — and will include special Chanukah messages from schoolchildren in Paraguay.
In addition to A Great Miracle Happened Here, JDC supports Chanukah celebrations around the world. In India, community members will partake in Khai Fest – an annual Chanukah talent show, and will spread holiday cheer with the sharing of photos of lit menorahs on a communal WhatsApp, especially for those who cannot leave home. In Latvia, various lectures, games and other holiday programming will take place both virtually and in-person, and in Bulgaria, the community will celebrate with a special cooking workshop as well as a festive online quiz game for everyone to be able to partake in the holiday excitement from home. In Morocco, the local Jewish nursing home will host a Chanukah celebration with residents. Meanwhile, across the former Soviet Union, gatherings will include menorah-lightings, concerts, cooking workshops, and educational sessions, as well as volunteer opportunities to deliver holiday food packages and other treats to the most isolated, ensuring they can still celebrate the holiday.