Hanukkah in the Lisbon City Hall

Hanukkah in the Lisbon City Hall

Credit: Israel em Portugal

At the initiative of the Ambassador of Israel to Portugal, Ambassador Dor Shapira, and the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, a celebration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, was held on December 14, in the City Hall.

Remarks by both the ambassador and the Mayor highlighted that the city and the country were scenes of exemplary coexistence between religions, guided by tolerance. Eight candles were lit, each with a special meaning.  

The 1st candle - the Friendship candle - symbolizes the friendship that unites Portugal and Israel, the unique link between two peoples. It also represents this intercultural and welcoming Lisbon, an immemorial meeting point for people and diverse uses. The heart of Lisbon is its greatest wealth and its greatest light.

It was lit by the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas and his wife, Céline Abecassis-Moedas, together with the Ambassador of Israel, Dor Shapira and his wife, Revital Shapira.

The 2nd candle – the Tolerance candle – symbolizes living the religion in peace and freedom. Together in faith for one God, but more than that, together in respect for individual choice.

It was lit by the representatives of the 3 Abrahamic religions present in Portugal: the Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Lisbon, Rabbi Ruben Suzia, The Director of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Interreligious Dialogue of the Patriarchate of Lisbon, Father Peter Stilwell, and the Imam of the Islamic Community of Lisbon, Sheik David Munir.

The 3rd candle – the Environment candle – symbolizes the effort, unavoidably common, for the health of the planet and for the preservation of resources, for the sake of who is and who is to come. Portugal has been at the forefront of this fight and Israel has been dedicated to finding solutions. Together we can do more.

It was lit by Sónia Sousa Ell, a diver, a teacher, and a promoter of awareness of the importance of the preservation of marine ecosystems, for protection of our environment and the planet.

The 4th candle - the Inspiration candle - symbolizes the enormous power of individual will, the ability to overcome less favorable situations, transforming them into an example of life capable of touching and inspiring many other lives. It was lit by Mafalda Ribeiro.

She studied Journalism and it's the love for journalism and literature that moves her, even if her legs don't obey. She is a diversity and inclusion consultant, author, and speaker. Mafalda lives with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, travels in a wheelchair and is an example of strength, showing us that there is no obstacle she cannot overcome.

The 5th candle – the Soul candle – symbolizes all those who make discipline and overcoming challenges their personal religion and take the name of their country across borders, in whatever area. It was lit by Nuno Delgado,

“As a child I was hyperactive, dyslexic, had PDS (Postural Deficiency Syndrome) and lived torn between my Portuguese identity and my Cape Verdean roots”. When he discovered Judo, his life changed. He changed so much that he achieved what was the first Olympic conquest of national Judo in Sydney, in 2000. Now, Nuno has a Judo school where every child learns to be a Champion for Life!

The 6th candle – the Compassion candle – symbolizes not just looking, but SEEING the Other. It represents the ethics of the Service that must guide each one of us, especially in challenging times like the one we are experiencing. It was lit by Isabel Jonet, the president of the Food Bank Against Hunger.

In 2005, Isabel Jonet structured and launched the Educar para a Cidadania program aimed at children and young people, which, through the practical case of the Food Bank, shows the importance of values in training and education.

The 7th candle - the Care candle - symbolizes the right to protection and dignity of all victims and a policy of zero tolerance towards the ignominy of violence, namely in a domestic context.

It was lit by João Lázaro, the president of APAV, the Portuguese Victim Support Association. APAV believes and works so that, in Portugal, the status of crime victim is recognized, valued and effective. Its mission is to support crime victims, their families and friends and contribute to the improvement of public, social and private policies aimed at the victim's condition.

The 8th candle - the candle of the Future - symbolizes the true legacy of any country, the stronghold of hope in a future that we always want to be better: the children. It was lit by Manuela Eanes, the founder and honorary president of the Child Support Institute.

Wife of former president Ramalho Eanes, she was First Lady from 1976 to 1986 - the period in which Portugal and Israel began their full diplomatic relations (May 12, 1977) - and, in 1983, still in Belém, Manuela Eanes helped to create the Child Support Institute, an initiative that preceded the approval of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations.