The public Chanukah lightings at Mamilla neighborhood in Jerusalem are over, yet the true miracles of Mivtza Mamilla have only just begun to unfold.

For the first time since its existence, the famous Mamilla Avenue mall (which leads straight to the old city) agreed to replace their usually Greek oriented, non-spiritual public Chanukah entertainment with a cutting-edge Chanukah program each night of the holiday, orchestrated by Rabbi Eliyahu and Chana Canterman, Shluchim of Talbiyeh (which borders Mamilla).

Hundreds of Jews from all walks of life joined together each night where they viewed dignitaries and famous personalities lighting the Menorah. These included Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, ProfessorYisrael Aumann, physicist Gerald Schroeder and others. Divrei Torah were heard, delicious doughnuts distributed and lively music from Piamentas to Razel, echoed through the prestigious Avenue.

But none in the crowd of hundreds which gathered each night for the Menorah lighting, was aware of the series of miracles that led up to the historic occasion.

"The very fact that the directors of the mall allowed us to put up a kosher Menorah constructed according to the Rambam's specifications right on Mamilla Avenue, is itself a miracle," Shliach Rabbi Canterman told COLlive.



When the Shluchim first approached Mrs. Tzipi Vital, curator and director of exhibits at the famous tourist location, about doing a public Menorah lighting, she agreed, but only if they would use a Menorah with the design she chose.

"The Menorah design was not even Kosher," Canterman explains, "forget about it being a Rambam Menorah. We did not know what to do," he says. 

Neither side was willing to give in.

One of the secretaries present at the meeting, who had had a positive experience with Chabad in Florida as a child, suddenly asked Vital if she'd ever seen 'Chanukiat HaRabbi MiLubavitch.'

When Vital replied in the negative, the secretary pulled up a video on YouTube of the Rebbe celebrating Chanukah in 770 Eastern Parkway, of the lighting of a golden Menorah - a replica of what stood in the Beis Hamikdash according to the Rambam.

After watching the video, Vital literally jumped up, and exclaimed with excitement, "This I like! If you can reproduce this Menorah for us, the entire Chanukah program at Alrov Mamilla is yours."

From that moment on, the Cantermans began the tedious task of reproducing a replica Menorah, even though it was only 3 weeks to Chanukah, and no Israeli artist would agree to create the same Menorah, 3 times its weight and size.

Then they hit upon an idea, to ask Mr. Hirshel Pekkar, the creator of the original, to travel to Israel to create theirs as well. He agreed, and arrived in Israel with the parts of the Menorah on the Wednesday before Chanukah.

After many more miracles, due to the great time constraints in completing the task, the Menorah was finally put up, polished and secured to the wall only 7 minutes prior to the arrival of Chief Rabbi Metzger, who was scheduled to light the first candle.


Up to that night, they still had no idea why the video of the Rebbe's Menorah had such an effect on the curator at Mamilla, so that she had agreed on the spot to allow a replica Menorah be lit there.

As hundreds of passersby and store owners of the mall gathered to behold this historic scene of pirsumei nissa, in a mall that was built to resemble Greek modern culture in every way, many had tears in their eyes.

Rabbi Nafatali Rot, director of Tzach in Jerusalem, formally opened the evening. As he began to speak, Tzipi Vital turned to Mrs. Canterman and whispered, "I know this Rabbi from somewhere... but from where, I can't remember."

By the time Rabbi Rot left the podium, Vital was in tears. 

She rushed over to him and told him that the last time she had seen him was in the 60's, when after having made Aliyah from Morocco, she became one of his first students at the Ir Ganim Chabad School in Jerusalem, where Rabbi Rot was the principal for many years. 

"The eight years I spent with Chabad I remember with warmth, Ahavat Yisrael and tremendous happiness. Rabbi Rot, together with a super team of teachers, were symbols of education par excellence, and in addition to their love for each child, gave me a rich vocabulary of the Hebrew language, a love of the Almighty and of His Torah. This has stayed with me since," she said.


Was this perhaps the cause of the curator's unexplained consent to having "The Rebbe's Menorah " in the center of Mamilla Avenue?

Rabbi Canterman says, "One can only surmise that this is possible, and one cannot help but think of the famous Hayom Yom of 14th Teves, where the Shpoler Zeide relates 'When I was three, I saw the baal Shem Tov. He placed his holy hand on my heart, and ever since then I have felt warm'."

"The Rebbe commented on this Hayom Yom: 'A gesture of a tazaddik, certainly seeing him and hearing his voice, must make an impression never to be forgotten.'"

"So perhaps the video shown to Vital of the Chanukah Menorah lighting at 770, together with the warm Torah education at the Chabad School at Ir Ganim for the first 9 years of her life, and the Rebbe's brochos to his Shluchim, all played a part in this Mivtza Chanukah at Mamilla," Rabbi Canterman adds.

And, another result, the Curator has requested a parsha shiur to begin next week in the boardroom of the Mamilla offices....