Community urged to unite at Chanukah in the Square ‘more than any other year’

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Community urged to unite at Chanukah in the Square ‘more than any other year’

Organisers of the event call on the community to attend the public gathering for the festival of lights following a difficult year

Chanukah in the Square 2017: London Mayor Sadiq Khan with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis 

Credit: Marc Morris Photography
Chanukah in the Square 2017: London Mayor Sadiq Khan with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Credit: Marc Morris Photography

Organisers of this year’s Chanukah in the Square celebrations in London have said next week’s event is a time for British Jews to come together and unite “more than any other year”.

It follows a year in which the Jewish community has been front and centre in national news, largely because of antisemitism concerns in the Labour Party, with large communal protests and bitter political debate.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan will be speaking at this year’s event in Trafalgar Square next Wednesday evening, and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) chief executive said it was the perfect tonic to
a tumultuous year.

“This year, more than any other year, after the community has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, we can unite proudly under the lights of the Menorah,” said Simon Johnson, writing in Jewish News, which once again acts as a proud media sponsor.

“It is a chance for thousands of people to come out for the right reasons – not to protest, but to celebrate; not to wave placards, but to eat doughnuts; not to shout ‘enough is enough’, but to sing Jewish songs and dance to Jewish music in the middle of the UK’s capital city.”

This year’s event, which has been jointly organised by the JLC and Chabad-Lubavitch, is being hosted by Jewish comedian and director Rachel Creeger, with live music from Solomon Brothers, who were finalists on Israel’s The Voice. Entertainment will also be provided by the Akiva School choir.

After a three-year campaign, organisers finally decided that the event’s giant menorah would be replaced by a new “temporary” menorah this year as the original was designed by a convicted sexual abuser.

There are now plans to create a new permanent menorah for 2019, after farcical scenes in previous years, when organisers used gaffer tape to obstruct Menachem Mendel Levy’s name from the plaque.

Last month a JLC spokeswoman said “it would not be right to continue to use the old menorah and as organisers we believe that moving forward with a different menorah will symbolise the unity and strength of our community”.

She added: “Chanukah in the Square will be an opportunity for us to celebrate the festival of light in the centre of London.”

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