The annual gathering of Chanukah in the Square, for which Jewish News is once again media sponsors, celebrates the Festival of Lights with the communal lighting of a giant menorah in Trafalgar Square.
It remains lit for eight days, with one light being lit each day during the festival.
Last year the event was shelved because the dates fell over Christmas, when a large Christmas tree is traditionally erected in the iconic square.
Reflecting on its return for 2017, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson said Chanukah in the Square was “one of the best Jewish events of the year” as it “allows people from all backgrounds to enjoy Jewish culture”.
The JLC is one of several organisations supporting the event, others being Chabad Lubavitch UK, the Mayor of London’s Office and the London Jewish Forum.
Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, chief exec of Chabad UK this week said: “In its tenth anniversary, the Menorah in Trafalgar Square and the celebrations surrounding it, continue to be a beacon of light over London.
“They bear the message of Chanukah, that in the metaphorical struggle of light over darkness, we have to focus on proudly adding our bit of light and the rest will follow.
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of the world’s first public menorah at City Hall in Philadelphia. Since then there are thousands of the public menorahs projecting Chanukah’s message.”
Johnson said this year’s event follows hot on the heels of “inspiring” initiatives including the Chief Rabbi’s Shabbat UK, the ever-popular Mitzvah Day and this year’s events surrounding the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. “Balfour 100 was the most co-operative and comprehensive community endeavour I have experienced,” said Johnson, who chaired the organising committee, adding that Chanukah was “the most joyful of Jewish festivals… It is a credit to our city that we are able to celebrate in this way”.
Security, provided in large part by CST volunteers, is expected to be tight and Johnson paid tribute to those making it possible, saying that such a public celebration would not be possible in many European countries due to security concerns.