Danny Fenster to help mark 'Menorah in the D' on Sunday

The Detroit News

Metro Detroit journalist Danny Fenster, recently freed from captivity in Myanmar, is slated to play a prominent role this weekend in one of the region's largest Hanukkah gatherings, officials announced Monday.

The Huntington Woods native is one of the honorees expected to light the 26-foot-tall glass and steel menorah during the "Menorah in the D" on Sunday at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.

Danny Fenster, second from left, is greeted by his brother, Bryan Fenster; his mother, Rose Fenster; and his father, Buddy Fenster, after arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Tuesday following his release from a Myanmar prison.

Fenster, managing editor of online magazine Frontier Myanmar, returned to the United States on Tuesday, a day after he was freed from nearly six months of imprisonment in military-ruled country.

He was arrested at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was headed to Metro Detroit to see his family. This month, before his unexpected release, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison with hard labor. 

The 11th annual Hanukkah event returns after last year’s virtual ceremony. The gathering downtown begins at 5 p.m. and the livestream begins at 5:30, airing on the Chabad Lubavitch of Michigan Facebook and website.

Scott Sherman representing the Fisher Foundation, right, lights the menorah at the Menorah in the D ceremony at Campus Martius in Detroit on Dec. 10, 2020. From left are Dr. Darienne Hudson of United Way Detroit and Rabbi Kisriel Shemtov.

Festivities revolve around the Jewish holiday, which runs from dusk Sunday through Dec. 6. Also known as the Festival of Light, Hanukkah commemorates how the Maccabees, a small, outnumbered army of Jews, trounced the Syrian Greek forces that occupied the Holy Land nearly 2,200 years ago.

“We are so honored to welcome home Danny and to have him as a dignitary to light the large Menorah Sunday evening at Campus Martius,” said Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, vice president for the Chabad Lubavitch of Michigan. “We are going forward to bring everyone together again as we light the Menorah in downtown Detroit.”