Thousands showed up to join Chabad of the Valley’s Chanukah at CityWalk, an annual fixture on the L.A. calendar and the international Jewish music circuit, despite prevailing security concerns following the recent massacre in San Bernadino. Security was heightened with the Universal City Sherriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and other law enforcement agencies out in force to ensure safety for the largest Chanukah celebration on the West Coast.
Chabad of the Valley’s Associate Director, Rabbi Mordechai Einbinder introduced a good friend of Chabad, nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved. Medved, who hosts the midday show on AM870 The Answer emceed the evening together with the event’s long standing Master of Ceremonies Rabbi Mayer Greene.
This year’s headliner was Israeli singing sensation Gad Elbaz, who was joined later in the evening by his father, Benny Elbaz making a surprise appearance at the big event. Elbaz and his father enthralled the crowd in an energetic performance belting out one hit after another amid a spectacular sound and light show.
Eli Marcus made his maiden performance on the CityWalk stage as he approaches the first anniversary of his debut album Dovid Hamelech.
Other performances included: the Shira Orchestra, acapella group PELLA, Mendy J and a first time live performance in Los Angeles by EDON, the young teenager who won American’s hearts when he proudly displayed his Jewish pride making his way to the Semi Finals on America’s Got Talent.
Rabbi Yossi Baitelman, Director of Chabad of Studio City, the host of the event, proclaimed the importance of a Hakhel celebration of this magnitude. He noted the emphasis the Lubavitcher Rebbe placed on such gatherings. Rabbi Baitelman then invited Jonathan Herzog, executive producer of the show to join him on stage, to thank him and the talented production group for helping crystalize a dream that he together with Rabbi Greene and the rest of the Chabad of the Valley team had conceived some 14 years ago.
Following the formal ceremony, the event’s behind the scenes technical director, Rabbi Yochanan Baitelman and Yochanan Gordon were joined on the podium by well known philanthropist Mr. Lyle Weisman and his family as they were honored with lighting the enormous 15 ft. Menorah, as singer Eli Marcus recited the blessings accompanied by PELLA.
Michael Medved paid tribute to law enforcement officials and introduced a video presentation on the giant stadium-sized screen that recounted the tragic, yet triumphant story of the recent wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman to Ariel Biegel, a wedding that became known as “Israel’s Wedding” after Litman’s father and younger brother were murdered by terrorists just days before they were to be married.
The event has continued for many years, through the support of an anonymous donor and an increasingly coordinated sponsorship effort spearheaded by Chabad’s Directors of Development, Rabbi Yanky Kahn and Rabbi Ari Herzog. Those efforts have yielded an impressive list of corporate sponsorship including: KRLA 870, Albertsons/Vons/PAVILLIONS, Milano Collection Wigs, Galpin Honda, Providence, Atria Senior Living, Axis Bridge, Zilberstein Realty, Tofer & Associates, Cambridge Farms/Glatt Mart, Nick Trading Int’l, KosherLuxe, A Coin Exchange, Westpac & Associates, Advance Home Improvement, Inc and others.