RUSSIA (JTA) – A synagogue in Tomsk, a Siberian city in Russia, has unveiled a giant Hanukkah menorah made of ice.
The 10-foot menorah was erected Tuesday inside the synagogue yard. Tomsk, a city of roughly 500,000, is located about 2,000 miles east of Moscow.
The menorah was made by Seva Mayorov, a local non-Jewish artist whose work also features regularly at the annual Tomsk Ice Park exhibition, which attracts thousands of tourists to the city annually.
Tomsk carries symbolism for Russian Jewry. In 1876, it saw the erection of a different synagogue, built by Jews who were conscripted as child soldiers, often against their will, to serve in the czar’s army.
This year is the second time that Tomsk has boasted an ice menorah, but it features some upgrades to last year’s version, including colorful LED lights that run through it and elaborate crown-shaped tips, according to the local rabbi, Levy Kaminetsky, a Chabad emissary who moved with his wife, Gitty, to Tomsk in 2004. The tips are removable and can be fitted with candles, making the menorah kosher.
Temperatures in Tomsk dip below the freezing point in September and do not rise again until the end of March. A temperature of 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit is normal for Tomsk in winter.