The tunes of The Maccabeats rang out through central London last night as more than 7,000 people partied at the largest ever Chanukah in the Square, writes Justin Cohen.
The American a cappella group performed some of their most popular hits at the annual celebration, during which Boris Johnson addressed a packed Trafalgar Square ahead of the lighting of the menorah.
• WATCH THE MACCABEATS’ PERFORMANCE HERE!
Fuelled by 6,000 free doughnuts, the record crowds sang and danced despite the rainy conditions and fears before the event that the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris could deter revellers from attending.
“Recent events here in London, in our sister city Paris, as well as in other parts of the world, remind us of the importance of cherishing and defending our freedom. Not only our freedom of speech, but the freedom of religion,“ Johnson said ahead of his eighth and final Chanukah in the Square as mayor.
• WATCH JNTV’S INTERVIEW WITH ZAC GOLDSMITH HERE
“The lighting of the menorah is a special moment in London’s festive season, symbolising light, hope and freedom, messages that resonate with Londoners of all faiths.”
The celebration – organised by the Jewish Leadership Council, London Jewish Forum and Chabad UK and media partnered by the Jewish News – also featured performances from the Neshama band and Akiva School choir.
• WATCH JNTV’S INTERVIEW WITH SADIQ KHAN HERE
The Chief Rabbi addressed the crowds, as did Labour MP Louise Ellman.
Among those celebrating in the Square and a subsequent reception were a host of London politicians including the leading contenders to succeed Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith.
JLC chief executive Simon Johnson – who acted as master of ceremonies alongside Chabad’s Rabbi Bentzi Sudak – hailed the event as “a vibrant, lively, energetic and musical celebration”.
He added: “The Jewish community is privileged to live in a country where our capital city opens up one of its most famous landmarks to us every year.
“It is a great credit to modern Britain that we are free to celebrate our culture and heritage together with Londoners and the many individuals who visit our capital.”
Rabbi Sudak said: “Like the increasing light of the menorah, Chanukah in the Square keeps on growing larger, brighter, warmer with each year. “
Describing the event – also supported by the CST and mayor’s office – as “a great success”, LJF director Joe Vinson added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support of politicians such as Boris Johnson and Louise Ellman.”
• LISTEN TO THE JEWISH VIEWS PODCAST, FROM CHANUKAH IN THE SQUARE!: