Celebrating Chanukah & Jewish Heritage with the Miami Heat

Burnie & over 5000 JHN Fans enjoying Half Time Chanukah Celebration.jpgJewish Heritage Night on Wednesday, 12-12-12 with the Miami Heat was truly a historic event.

As the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter of play, the sell-out crowd of 20,000 fans at American Airlines Arena watching Lebron James' Miami Heat take on the Golden State Warriors, were treated to a grand Menorah lighting ceremony in celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Cantor Yossi Lebovics, who masterfully sang the National Anthem before the opening tip-off, belted out the Chanukah blessings for all to hear. A beautiful ovation was offered by the crowd as dignitaries took turns lighting the eight branch holiday candelabra. Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Miami Heat CFO Sammy Schulman and Jewish Philanthropist David Schottenstein were among those honored to kindle the Menorah.

In appreciation of how many people attend the annual Jewish Heritage Night, the Miami Heat invited event coordinators Rabbi Pinny Andrusier and Rabbi Chaim Lipskar onto the court during the game’s first time-out to recognize their efforts. Florida's Jewish Heritage Night is the largest annual group at an NBA game.

"Originally, we were scheduled to have the lighting on the court during the 75 second time-out, but the time required to get everyone and the Menorah on and off the court would have taken away from the beautiful ceremony we had," explained Rabbi Pinny. "It worked out wonderfully!"

"Amazing how many Chabads have followed our lead and are now making celebrations in sports arenas, but this ceremony was really special." said Rabbi Chaim Lipskar. "To light the Menorah during the game in front of all the fans, was truly incredible."

For Half Time, all fans were invited onto the East Plaza concourse for a special Chanukah celebration and concert. More than 5000 cheering fans strolled outside to enjoy the Jewish music and kosher delicacies from the Aaron’s Best Kosher Food Court. The Chanukah Half Time show was broadcasted live on the big screen inside the arena.

Rabbi Pinny attributed the night’s success to the united efforts of Chabad of Florida and the Miami Heat. “Tonight’s overwhelming success allowed everyone to enjoy an evening filled with fun, joy and Jewish pride.”

JHN Happy Chanukah placards were distributed to every guest upon entry and 5000 Jewish Heritage Night guests received a beautiful custom t-shirt. In addition, rabbinical students got to play an 8 minute scrimmage before the game and a select number of younger Jewish Heritage Fans were allowed on court to greet the Heat and opposing players as they entered the game.

"This is the first time attending such an event," said Brian Gordon of Hollywood. "What you guys did here is truly amazing! I love being Jewish, I love Chanukah, I love the Heat and you brought it all together so beautifully. Amazing!”

For information on future events or to purchase your Jewish Heritage T-Shirt, log onto www.JewishHeritageNight.com