Journalist Danny Fenster, freed two weeks ago from a Myanmar prison after nearly six months, was honored in downtown Detroit at a candle-lighting ceremony marking Sunday's first night of Chanukah, the Jewish holiday known as the Festival of Lights. It was his first formal public appearance since his release.
Honorees at the annual "Menorah in the D" celebration near Campus Martius also included Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, who applauded Fenster's release before a crowd of people bundled up in layers of clothing. They also helped light the menorah.
The Chabad, an orthodox branch of Judaism, describes Chanukah, an eight-day celebration, this way:
In the second century BCE, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in God. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.
Before the ceremony, at a VIP gathering inside the One Campus Martius building, Fenster, 37, spoke to the media about his release, his time spent so far at home in Metro Detroit and his future. “I couldn’t imagine a better community to come back to," Fenster said.
He also took time to pose for a picture with his wife Juliana Bizarria. The two were reunited in Detroit on Thanksgiving morning following her long flight from Myanmar.
Below is the interview along with other photos and another video.