Let’s unite under the lights at Chanukah in the Square!

This post first appeared in the Jewish News:

Let’s unite under the lights at Chanukah in the Square!

London Mayor Sadiq Khan takes a selfie at Chanukah in the Square Credit Marc Morris Photography
London Mayor Sadiq Khan takes a selfie at Chanukah in the Square Credit Marc Morris Photography

This time – more than any other time- this time. We’re gonna find a way..”

These words, from the chorus of the England World Cup Song of 1982, keep popping into my head as I think about Chanukah in the Square this year.

Because, this year, more than any other year, after the community has been in the news or all the wrong reasons, we can unite proudly under the lights of the Menorah in Trafalgar Square and celebrate Chanukah, on Wednesday 5th December, the 4th night of Chanukah.

We are giving the chance to 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.

Jews are commanded to place our own menorahs in a window, facing the outside world. Thanks to Chabad, the London Jewish Forum and the Mayor of London, we are able to place a communal Menorah right in the heart of Central London, in Trafalgar Square.

We are able to hold a ceremony to celebrate Chanukah in the centre of London’s rush hour. We will light the four candles (No Two Ronnies Jokes please) as people rush home from work. Our Chazzanim will chant the blessings in the tunes we remember from childhood as people go out to the theatre. We will sing “Moaz Tzur” in front of Londoners and tourists. We will dance, sing and eat doughnuts as London’s night begins.

And we can do all of this with our head held high, in safety, with our friends, colleagues and our kehillah. I never cease to be amazed that we live in a city, in a country, which allows us to do this- to celebrate our joyous festival in one of our country’s best known places, underneath one of the UK’s foremost tourist attractions.

The Chanukah Lights are a symbol against religious oppression. They symbolize religious freedom. The original Chanukah miracle saw the light burn against the forces of religious persecution.  It was part of Hashem’s plan to liberate the Jewish people from the murderous tyranny of the Greeks.

The Chanukah lights have burned in confrontation against all the historical persecutions over the years.

Thank Hashem that we live in a country of liberty, where we are free to practise religion freely, where laws are in place to protect our religious rights, where the Prime Minister and the Mayor of our capital allow us freely to celebrate our festivals and where we can walk tall and proud as Jews.

What is not to celebrate about that?

So, we have gathered renowned Chazzanim to light the Menorah and beautifully sing the berachot. We have the privilege to be hosted by Rachel Creeger, one of our community’s foremost and talented comedians. We have the Mayor of London and the Chief Rabbi speaking to us. We have doughnuts, we have music from two bands including Israel’s The Solomon Brothers.

From 5.30pm on Wednesday 5th December, we can be loud and proud as Jews.

So, wrap up warm. Put on two pairs of socks. Come to Trafalgar Square and prepare to sing, dance, eat and unite under the Chanukah lights in our capital city.

“This time…more than any other time…”

See you there.


Simon Johnson on CNN discussing their report on the rise of European antisemitism




JLC Chief Executive Simon Johnson at Brent Cross interviewing Jewish Women's Aid Co-Chairs Liz Gould and Hilda Worth


Jewish Women's Aid IDEVAW Campaign 2018

Don’t Shut Your Eyes to Domestic Abuse


IDEVAW is the UN International Day of Ending Violence Against Women. It is the beginning of a 16 day, global campaign spanning from 25 November through to the 10 December (International Human Rights Day) highlighting activism against Gender-Based Violence.

This year’s IDEVAW theme is “Don’t Shut Your Eyes to Domestic Abuse”, which means that it is imperative to support those who are particularly vulnerable.

We are lucky that our community has Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA), the only specialist organisation in the UK supporting Jewish women and their children affected by domestic violence and abuse. JWA was founded to support the thousands of Jewish women who, each year, will face physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or economic abuse from within their own home.

The last year has seen a huge rise in the awareness of sexual harassment, but it is also time that we pay more attention to women who need help and suffer from domestic violence and abuse too. One in every four women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, and the Jewish community is no different to any other.

We have been working alongside JWA and the Board of Deputies to establish how we can best provide a resource for communal organisations who may need help with handling the process of a sexual harassment case within the workplace. The JLC is committed to ensuring that all organisations across the community take sexual harassment, abuse and violence seriously and that a culture exists within our community where women feel comfortable enough to come forward about an experience they may have had, but better yet, a culture where there is nothing to come forward about.

It is not ever easy for women to come forward about their experiences or situation when speaking about any of these issues, but, as this year’s IDEVAW campaign, suggests, breaking the silence is the first step to transforming the culture of gender-based violence. 

The government this year have committed to ensuring that safety: women and girls are safe and secure from all forms of violence, including sexual violence in conflict, and are in control of their bodies and health.

If you or anyone you know needs support from Jewish Women’s Aid, you can call their helpline number on 0808 801 0500.


Simon Johnson, Chief Executive, Jewish Leadership Council



Message from JLC Chair Jonathan Goldstein - November 2018

Dear Friends:

Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice & Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger – may their memory be a blessing and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Only two months ago Jews around the world stood shoulder to shoulder in synagogues reciting in unison the awesome words of Unetaneh Tokef – “On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur it is sealed.” I could not have imagined that such a short time later we would come together to mourn the brutal murder of 11 of our brothers and sisters in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and my heart breaks for their families. To lose someone so abruptly and so ruthlessly is hard to fathom.

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PaJeS Update - November 2018

The new school year has proved to be as busy as ever for PaJeS with many projects taking place and in the pipeline. Here is a taster of a few of our upcoming activities:

Arsenal Project – Kicking off on 1st November, Hasmonean High School for Boys together with East Barnet School will be meeting at The Emirates where they will get to know each other and understand each other’s faiths. Students from East Barnet School are sending a mix of Muslim, Greek Orthodox and Anglican children to meet with the Jewish pupils from Hasmonean. The students will be split into small groups where they will find out about each other’s religions and then put together a presentation which will be delivered to primary schools on 12th November (during Interfaith week). The pupils will have the chance to play a football match on the iconic pitch and tour the stadium. We hope to offer this out to more schools next year.


Teaching Judaism Conference – On 7th November, 60 teachers from Catholic secondary schools from across the country will be getting together at Western Marble Arch Synagogue. The conference will revolve around 4 different workshops. Through the workshops, the teachers, will get to hear about topics such as Shabbat, Kashrut, Festivals, Tanach and Talmud, Life after Death and the Promised Land. Speakers during the day include Rabbi Lionel Rosenthal, Rabbi Michael Pollak, Clive Lawton and Nic Abery to name a few. During their lunch break, teachers will be able to browse a marketplace of interactive stalls where they will have the opportunity to make hamentaschen, write their names in Hebrew and make a meaty meal planner. The day will be a great way to learn about our religion and hear and see information first hand.

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Miki Vyse: UJIA Northern Dinner

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the UJIA Northern dinner, one of my favourite events of the year.

To celebrate 70 years of Israel, we heard 7 different stories from different areas of UJIA’s work.

Over the past year, there has been some fantastic coverage of UJIA in the press, not least due to HRH Prince William’s visit to Israel. At the dinner, we heard from young people that have been through UJIA’s fast track course, young people who had explored their identity on Israel tour and developed themselves on young leadership programmes. For nearly 100 years, UJIA has been building meaningful relationships between the UK and Israel, and seeing that displayed in the North of England was fantastic.

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Danielle Bett: Scotland’s Jewish Gathering

The JLC was delighted to play a role in the unique Jewish Gathering in Edinburgh over the weekend of 26th to 28th October. Around 160 Jewish people from all over Scotland – from the Western Isles and the Grampians in the north to Galloway in the south came together for a programme that included traditional Shabbat meals, inspiring speakers, music, discussion – and of course a whisky-flavoured tisch.

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Claudia Mendoza: At a difficult time for our community, we had a positive story to tell Theresa May

This article first appeared on the Jewish Chronicle on 6 November 2018.

Last week, the Jewish Leadership Council led a delegation of our members to meet the prime minister.

To be given any face time at such a fraught moment for the government is not something we take for granted and we used our one hour assiduously and covered many issues.

Our meeting took place in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre and Theresa May reiterated her commitment to fighting antisemitism and ensuring the safety of the Jewish community.

But we also had a positive story to tell of the contribution of our community to society. It was great to be able to showcase two of our more recent members - Chai Cancer Care and Work Avenue.

These are two organisations who do tremendous work within the community and beyond, get no government funding, and have offered to share best practice with others. 

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Parliament Week 2018


UK Parliament Week is an annual festival that engages people from across the UK with Parliament, explores what it means to them and empowers them to get involved.

There is something for everyone: whether you attend or organise an event. You can also take part in the online conversation using the hashtag #UKPW18.

Organisations across the UK run events and activities throughout UK Parliament Week which explore what the UK Parliament means to them and their community.


The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) is delighted to partner with Parliament Week.

As the umbrella body for the 35 most significant Jewish organisations in the UK, the JLC plays a central role representing the Jewish community and facilitating its engagement with government, parliamentarians and wider society on a range of issues including social care, education and students, safety and security, social action and more. We work across the country, through our members, regional representative councils and across all denominations of Judaism to ensure the interests of our community are promoted.

As a minority, democracy and equality are important to our community and actively participating in Britain’s political processes is essential. Voicing one’s opinion, engaging with one’s local MP and councillors, and involving oneself in the public policy discourse are vital.

For those not regularly engaged in politics, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to get involved, so campaigns such as Parliament week, which make politics more accessible and easier to understand, are very important in promoting civic engagement.

I look forward to the JLC working with UK Parliament through resources and events to help our community, and the wider pubic, play a greater role in British political life.

Jonathan Goldstein, Chair, Jewish Leadership Council

You can download the Jewish resource booklet for Parliament week here.


Your UK Parliament Week Kit

There are 10,000 UK Parliament Week partners’ kits to give away once you’ve registered your event or activity. Your kit includes:

  • A booklet with a wide range of activities for you to use at your event
  • A ballot box so you can run your own mock elections, or vote on a debate!
  • Bunting so you can decorate in true UK Parliament Week style
  • Posters to help you promote your event
  • UK Parliament Week pin badges for you to wear so everyone knows you’re taking part.
  • Your very own UK Parliament Week placard – take pictures with your placard and share on social media to show off your activities!
  • And last but not least – our new Votes for Women sash, to get you in the Vote 100 spirit!

Register your UK Parliament Week event or activity now.