“Oh Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah” – when the Austrian band “Die Wandervoegel” chimed in, people began to cheer, clap and sing along as dignitaries lit the candles at the joint annual Hanukkah celebration of the Austrian Embassy, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Access DC (AJC’s local young professional program) on Tuesday, December 4, 2018.
It was not the first time that the Festival of Lights was celebrated at the atrium of the Austrian Embassy. In fact, during the past eight years, it has become a tradition cherished by an ever growing crowd. “Besides reconnecting with the local Jewish community over a difficult past, my predecessor wanted to reach out especially to young people in order to foster mutual understanding and building a common future,” says Thorsten Eisingerich, Director of the Department of Press and Information of the Austrian Embassy. “The joint celebration has been growing in popularity ever since. Without doubt, the Hanukkah event reached a new peak this year with a band from Austria performing Yiddish songs as a special treat before the actual Hanukkah ceremony.”
The celebration reached its climax when AJC Washington Director Alan Ronkin lightened the Shamash candle: As the crowd started singing, he handed the candle to the Austrian Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner, AJC Washington Vice President Linda Rosenzweig and AJC Access DC President Susan Chusyd who proceeded to light the three candles of the Menorah.
For the rest of the evening, as “Die Wandervoegel” continued playing, children enjoyed the dreidels while guests gathered over Austrian wine and beer as well as quiche, falafels, blinis and a variety of other delicious parve dishes.