Thousands celebrate Chanukah at the Zoo

December 15, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Sydney community organisations Jewish House and JNF NSW united to host around 2,000 families and individuals at a family day out at Taronga Zoo.

Avremi Joseph and Yigal Nissel

The organisers believe it is expected to be one of the world’s largest Chanukah events this year.

Families arrived in droves over five hours to take in the sights and sounds of the exotic animals and Chanukah festival. Families were treated to a 50% ticket price discount, making the event affordable for many who have been impacted by this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Rabbi Mendel Kastel light the menorah

Complimentary tickets were provided to 100 families identified by the organisations as experiencing significant financial hardship and family relationship breakdowns.

Children wandered the Zoo with their parents & carers, marking off animals on a bespoke Chanukah-themed treasure map, and winning hundreds of Chanukah prize packs at the concert lawn event.

Families ate and danced staying on for the lighting of the grand menorah in front of one of the most magnificent backdrops in the world – Sydney harbour.

JNF Education Shaliach Yigal Nisell said: “The 2020 Chanukah family day at the Zoo was the perfect way to end this challenging year.  As a community, we have had to find strength and resilience from within and look for ways to support each other and Israel.”

Enjoying the fun

Jewish House CEO, Rabbi Mendel Kastel added: “It was an incredibly heartwarming sight to see so many friends, family and new supporters congregate safely outdoors this year and celebrate the festival of Chanukah.

I want to acknowledge the friendship and support of JNF NSW, Taronga Zoo, and Cremorne Synagogue for working side-by-side with Jewish House to bring the community together in celebration after such a trying year. ”

The Chanukah festivities will continue over the coming days with candle lightings taking place at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Westfield shopping centres, and several nursing homes – bringing the joy of the holidays to those in physical isolation.

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