It took an army of volunteers, a lorry-load of donuts, and a factory-worth of candles to make it happen, but tens of thousands of Jewish residents of Manchester, UK enjoyed the traditions, joy and pride of Chanukah.

Chanukah in Manchester had a completely different face thanks to the efforts of L’Chaim-Chabad who brought the warmth and meaning of the eight nights to people of every age and affiliation. From kids to seniors and everyone in between, there was something for everybody.

It started before Chanukah began with lectures and courses on the history, meaning and laws of the holiday. Young mothers and their babies got into the Chanukah spirit at Mummy and Me with themed crafts and traditional songs.

As Chanukah got underway, the parties began. They were hosted throughout the city in Synagogues, restaurants, shopping centres, business centers and nursing homes. Smile on Seniors arranged 5 different public menorah lightings every night, including one at Heathlands Village, where there was also a party attended by more than 100 seniors.

Michael, a nineteen year old disabled child, enjoyed a private Chanukah party from two L’Chaim volunteers who clapped and sang along with him while his emotional parents looked on. A similar scene repeated itself in numerous healthcare facilities around the city.

Some 85 volunteers headed out with menorahs, candles, donuts, dreidels and a special Chanukah edition of L’Chaim’s weekly publication to spread Chanukah cheer to thousands of bedridden and homebound Jews. In all, they visited more than 2,200 homes were visited, as well as 5 hospitals and 14 nursing homes. L’Chaim fielded hundreds of phone calls requesting visitations, and made their way to each and every one, ensuring no one missed out on the joy of Chanukah. The Chabad food-bank was also there to ensure that many of Manchester’s needy families had a place to turn to for food, clothing and housing assistance.

Central to all L’Chaim’s events is their strong sense of Jewish pride. To that end, there were 3 giant menorahs placed on central Manchester streets with an additional 10 at local shops and offices. An incredible 50 vehicles with car-top menorahs joined a “Chanukah Truck” and the L’Chaim-Chabad Mitzvah mobile in a Sunday night parade that was greeted by dancing and waving children on the pavement, and hundreds of cars hooting along.

Chanukah was made especially fun for kids, with a host of events. Families came out in droves for the Chanukah carnival, featuring exciting booths along with contests and prizes. Over 20 members of the Chabad Girls’ Club took a trip out to the bowling alley for a night of healthy Chanukah fun, while “Chanukah Fest” at the JS Restaurant quickly ran out of 250 kiddie hot dog suppers.

But for kids like Josh, a Year Four student at King David Primary School, the Chanukah Theatre Presentation truly stole the show. Students from Yeshivas Lubavitch Manchester paused their Talmudic studies to become actors in a live show that brought the ancient story to life in an engaging, dramatic and humourous fashion. “It’s the highlight of Chanukah in school,” said Josh.

The Jewish Learning Institute ensured adults were not forgotten either, and organized Chanukah celebrations at numerous business centres. In an Oldham first, 50 gathered for a midday Chanukah party hosted by Ultimate Products. In Bury, businessmen and women joined for a “lunch & learn” and a quick game of dreidel.

L’Chaim’s Jewish Business Network hosted “Chanukah in Spinningfield,” where 60 busy professionals joined in a unique Chanukah celebration in the Manchester City Centre.

The burgeoning Young Jewish Professionals Club kicked off Chanukah in style with a Bongo Barbecue on Saturday night, in an evening that featured great food, better company, and fine spirits. “I wasn’t even planning on getting a Menorah until tomorrow,” said Mike L, “But thanks to this party, I realized I could get an even earlier start to the celebration!”

While that may have been enough to reach Jewish residents throughout the greater Manchester region, L’Chaim sent volunteers to six rural communities, bringing Chanukah to many who would otherwise not have the means to celebrate it. “It is incredible how Chabad goes the extra mile for a fellow Jew - and with a smile,” said Carl, a grateful York resident. Eric of Southport said, “You can't imagine what a mitzvah it was for you to visit Harold at the old age home, he's been so down lately.”

To sum up L’Chaim-Chabad’s mammoth Chanukah operation: Over the one week holiday, volunteers distributed 2000 Menorah kits, 6500 Jelly Doughnuts, 4200 Chanukah guides and 3000 Dreidels.

That’s a lot of spinning.