It was with great delight that we were able to celebrate Chanukah with over 7,000 people on Thursday 28th November as Mayor of London Boris Johnson lit the Menorah for the annual Chanukah in the Square Mayoral menorah lighting.
Set in the landmark location of Trafalgar Square, Europe’s largest Menorah stood bright for the entire 8 day duration of Chanukah, reminding Londoners of the miracle of the festival of light; and reminding Londoners of the religious and cultural contribution the Jewish people make to this diverse city.
Chanukah in the Square was organised by the Jewish Leadership Council, the London Jewish Forum and Chabad-Lubavitch UK, and supported by the Mayor of London.
In addition to the lighting ceremony, attendees were treated to fantastic live performances by Neshama, the Wolfson Hillel School Choir, and Chazan Avromi Freilich and the Ne’imah Singers of St. John’s Wood Synagogue conducted by Jonathan Weissbart along with the colourful, ever spinning Dreidelman. Not only were guests kept entertained by these fantastic acts throughout the evening, but they were also treated to 6,000 free doughnuts, a traditional food eaten during Chanukah. Kosher hot food was served at the event by The Diner London.
It truly was a memorable evening, with the crowd dancing throughout and in jubilant mood. What really stood out were the spectators. London is known for its diverse population and this event was the perfect example of how different faiths can come together and celebrate as one.
Along with the Mayor of London, addressing the crowd on the night were Adrian Cohen, Chair of LJF, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and Gillian Merron, Vice-President of the JLC. A VIP reception was then held after the lighting at the Trafalgar Hotel.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said he was delighted to take part in the celebrations, noting that the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square for the annual event was the largest yet.
The Mayor said:
One of the joys of being able to mark Chanukah in the Square is that it enables all Londoners to share in the rich cultural heritage of Jewish people. It is also a time that can be shared by other faith communities, who can recognise in their own beliefs, the strength and redeeming power of the story of miracle of the lamp, and who also celebrate in so many ways the festival of lights. My best wishes to all celebrating at this special time. Chag Sameach.
Adrian Cohen, Chair of London Jewish Forum commented;
The Menorah lighting in Trafalgar Square has now become one of the iconic moments in London’s celebration of the winter season. Light is important in many faiths. Within Judaism, the lights of the Menorah stand for tolerance and religious freedom and we are required to publicise that message to the world. How much better for Jewish Londoners to do so than the lighting of Europe’s largest Menorah by the Mayor of our great city.
Simon Johnson, Interim Chief Executive of the JLC, said;
Chanukah in the Square 2013 was a memorable event. The lights on the Menorah shone out to the crowd and will burn throughout the festival as a symbol to London of peace, unity and tolerance. The words of The Mayor and the Chief Rabbi will have touched all who heard them. I want to thank everybody who worked to make it a success and who came to witness this symbol of joy.
Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, CEO of Chabad-Lubavitch stated;
Once again it has been a pleasure to work with the Mayor of London and our communal organisations, the Jewish Leadership Council and London Jewish Forum, on this spectacular event which unites the entire Jewish community and brings the light of the Menorah and the warmth of the message of Chanukah to the widerL ondon community.