Light fantastic! 7,000 people celebrate largest ever Chanukah in the Square

Light fantastic! 7,000 people celebrate largest ever Chanukah in the Square

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

The Maccabeats entertained 7,000 people in Trafalgar Square.
The Maccabeats entertained 7,000 people in Trafalgar Square.
The Maccabeats entertained 7,000 people in Trafalgar Square.
The Maccabeats entertained 7,000 people in Trafalgar Square. Picture: Yakir Zur

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.


Members of Maccabeats said: “This was one of our most amazing shows. the whole group would agree we would e definiely like to do an event just like this again if we’re invited”.

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.


“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.


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.

Sadiq said: “the story of Chanukah, the miracle of the oil lasting eight days, is one all religions and everyone should know about. one of the great things abour London is you have jewish Londoners, muslim londoners , christians, hindus, Sikhs, those who aren’t part of any organised faith, living together showing not just tolerance but respect. credit to successive mayors who’ve made this happen and its great boris Johnson was here. If I’m elected i’ll be coming again, and again celebrating an important festival for so many Londoners”
Zac said: “It’s very uplifting, hugely enthusing atmosphere, its wonderful. the jewish community is an integral part of London’s culture, its economic success, its dynamism so this is a great celebration and demonstration of this community to London. everyone should be here.”
131© Photo by Yakir Zur -3249
It was all smiles as revellers young and even younger celebrated the Festival of Lights. Picture: Yakir Zur

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.”


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