This past Sunday, Cunningham Park was the site of the fourth annual Light Up The Night Community Chanukah Celebration, another smashing success. Launched four years ago by Rabbi Shmuel Kogan, Director of Ganeinu Academy and Bukharian Chai Center, the event continues to positively highlight the Jewish communities of Hillcrest, Holliswood, Hollis Hills, Fresh Meadows, and Jamaica Estates. Rabbi Kogan desired to create an annual event that brings together the over twelve shuls in the Jamaica Estates and surrounding areas for Chanukah.

This year, the event featured international singing sensation Uri Davidi, local singing star Avi Benjamin, the incredible music of DJ AHAVA, aka Ariel Katz, as well as a grand Chanukah menorah lighting held inside Cunningham Park with an over 16-foot stunning menorah! “It was truly an incredible night, with over 1,200 community members in attendance," noted Simcha Sommer, an event organizer. "We truly brought the Jewish community together as one unit for such a special program!”  The event was spearheaded by Rabbi Kogan, Ariel Shimunov, Jacob Herskowitz, and Sommer. Participants were treated to doughnuts, T-shirts, prizes, and other giveaways.

This year was extra special since it is a year of Hakhel, where we make as many large gatherings as possible to remember the Hakhel of the Beis Hamikdash. In a special presentation at the start of the program, children from each shul repeated p’sukim from the Torah out loud for the crowd to repeat. The pasuk of Torah was read by Orli Akilov and Elliot Yunatanov of Ganeinu Academy; Shema was read by Jordan, Jason, and Aiden Aronov of Bukharian Congregation of Jamaica Estates; B'chol was read by Ethan and Gabriel Smikun, and Aron Yushuvayev of Bukharian Chai Center Hebrew School; Kol was read by Yona Cantor of Young Israel of Jamaica Estates; Ki K'rov was read by Ezra Zargarov of Congregation Anshei Shalom; V'hinei was recited by Ariel Sofiev, Benjamin Shimunov, and shliach Menachem Mendel Kogan of Bukharian Congregation of Jamaica Estates.

Make sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, December 10, 2023, for the fifth annual community Chanukah Celebration!

Photos by Tzvi Kogan
and Shabsie Saphirstein