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Pianist Laura Leon

Mayor Ed Koch celebrated Hanukkah at City Hall with Music and a Menorah

Mayor Ed Koch warmly welcomed all of us lucky to have been in attendance at City Hall’s Hanukkah Candle Lighting Ceremony in the City Council Chamber, marking the first day of Hanukkah on December 21, 1981.

After the Mayor’s official greetings, and a performance by renowned Metropolitan Opera soprano Roberta Peters, accompanied by pianist Marshal Williamson, I had the privilege of being the pianist for the Zamir Chorale.

Directed by Matthew Lazar and conducted by Marsha Edelman, we performed a beautiful setting of the Hanukkah song  Mi Y’malel ("Who Can Retell"  ) and Halleluyah Amen.

When it was time to light the menorah, Mayor Koch stood behind it, towering over it and beaming, while Cantor Geffen lead the blessings and the singing of Maoz Tsur (“Rock of Ages”). One could not help thinking that Mayor Koch was very much like the shamash--the candle that lights all the others on the menorah.

The story of Hanukkah is the story of courage, commitment of beliefs, leadership and determination--very much how Mayor Edward I. Koch lived his remarkable life.