Foreign Office to hold Sukkot celebration for first time in 236-year history

Foreign Office to hold Sukkot celebration for first time in 236-year history

Sukkah to be put up in the main quadrangle of FCO, as landmark move welcomed by Jewish civil servants

Example of a colourful Sukkah
Example of a colourful Sukkah

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is to hold a Sukkot celebration for the first time in its 236-year history.

Mandarins, civil servants and diplomats will help put up a Sukkah in the main quadrangle on Wednesday, decorated with lanterns and paper chains made by children in the FCO Nursery.

The first-of-its-kind initiative is the brainchild of the Department’s Religion and Belief Group, and was welcomed by Josh Nagli and Katie Kochmann, co-chairs of the Civil Service Jewish Network.

“This is an exciting development for Jewish Civil Servants, enabling many to eat their meals in a Sukkah during Chol Hamoed,” they said in a joint statement.

“We want to see a thriving, diverse Civil Service, and we are delighted that we are able to support Jewish colleagues during Sukkot, as well as sharing awareness of Jewish practices and festivals amongst all Civil Servants.”

Rabbi David Lister of Edgware United Synagogue will give a talk on the history and meaning of Sukkot to attendees including sponsors Melinda Simmons, head of the National Security Strategy Joint Programme Hub, and Nigel Baker, former British ambassador to Bolivia and the Vatican.

Sue Breeze, Chair of the FCO Religion and Belief Group, said: “I was delighted when my Jewish colleagues suggested we mark Sukkot by putting up a sukkah inside the FCO building.

“I hope that having a sukkah on display at the FCO, where lots of people will walk past it, will create a buzz, and that we’ll have more people learning more about this important Jewish festival.”

In December, 150 civil servants attended the FCO’s Chanukah celebrations, sponsored by the Board of Deputies, while the Department has also ramped up its Holocaust commemorations in recent years.

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