The giant menorah which forms the focus of Europe’s biggest annual Chanukah celebrations in Trafalgar Square will not be used again after a lengthy campaign by an activist whose abuser designed it.
Yehudis Goldsobel expressed huge relief last night following a three-year campaign for the candelabra to be withdrawn.
Menachem Mendel Levy, who helped design it, was convicted of indecent assaulting her when she was aged 14. He was jailed for three years in 2013 but it wasn’t until two later that a plaque with his name was removed.
But last night Goldsobel was told of the plans to remove and replace the menorah in a meeting with two of the main organisers of Chanukah in the Square – the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Chabad-Lubavitch. There will be a temporary menorah used this year, with plans to create a new permanent menorah for 2019.
Speaking to Jewish News after the meeting, she said the two organisations had been “passing the buck between themselves for three years,” adding that she’d made “countless” representations to the JLC, Chabad, the Greater London Authority and the Mayor’s office.
She expressed her relief, saying the decision signalled the end of a long battle. “I’ve had a lot of support,” she said. “People offered to crowd-fund for a new one.
“There have been plaques removed because they name those who were only the subject of allegations. Here, we are talking about a conviction. They’ve been really schlepping it out and I don’t know why.”
Goldsobel said she was shunned by the Orthodox community after telling police about Levy’s abuse, and has since founded Migdal Emunah, a charity working across the Jewish community to support Jewish victims of sexual abuse.
A JLC spokeswoman said: “We are extremely pleased to have a different menorah for Chanukah in the Square this year and hope that it will continue to be a source of pride for everyone in the Jewish community.
“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. 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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