When Rabbi Yudi Tiechtal, Chabad representative to Berlin, sought permission to put up a large public menorah at the Brandenburg Gate, the response he got was that “only things relevant to the German nation are permitted here.”
That’s when Rabbi Tiechtal explained the very particular and specific relevance that Chanukah has for the German people.
“Chanukah, a festival that celebrates light over darkness and right over might, has a particular relevance to Germany,” he said. “The message of the menorah is one of light, and Germany, more than many other nation, can appreciate the value in this message, and in the warmth and light of the menorah.”
More than 1200 turned out to witness the menorah lighting at this historic site. Probably the most well-known landmark in Berlin, the 200-year-old gate was built as a monument to Prussian power, subsequently becoming one of the most potent symbols of the Cold War division of Germany and of Europe.
In 1989, the Brandenburg Gate was opened after thirty years. Today, it stands as a symbol of the reunification of East and West Germany.