City Hall hosts early Chanucah celebration


Chanucah came early to the capital, with the London Jewish Forum holding a pre-Chanucah reception at City Hall on Tuesday evening.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, Israeli ambassador Mark Regev and Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, were among the 200 guests.

Adrian Cohen, the chair of LJF, told them that LJF’s celebration is normally held in Trafalgar Square during Chanucah itself.

However, he confirmed that, as previously reported by the JC, the  event was not taking place this year due to the dates of festival coinciding with the Christmas-New Year period.

To laughter from the guests, he told Mr Khan that he had a year to practice before being hoisted up in a cherry-picker to light the giant Trafalgar Square menorah. 

“We are delighted to partner with Sadiq Khan, as we have with previous mayors, to bring together the Jewish community with our friends and partners across London – from all walks of life, faiths and ethnic backgrounds – to celebrate Chanucah,” said Mr Cohen.

“In 2017 and beyond, the London Jewish Forum will continue to work with the Mayor, his administration, the Assembly and Councils across our great city. We are committed to advocating on the issues that affect Jewish Londoners, from security and social cohesion to housing, welfare and transport.”

Mr Khan said: “Over the last seven months the friendship I have been shown by Londoners of the Jewish faith is quite remarkable.”

“The story of how the Maccabees were persecuted by the Syrian-Greek Empire, but withstood that persecution, stayed true to their values and their religion – and the miracle of the Menorah - I think is a story relevant today.

“Unfortunately, in recent years there has been a rise in antisemitism. I’m afraid there has been in particular a spike in hate crime post the Brexit vote.

“We’ve got far more in common than divides us, and a great thing about the Jewish community in London is the hand of friendship that they have put out to asylum seekers, to refugees. I’ve seen Mitzvah Day - the Jewish community doing social action, helping others across London - the work from the JW3, Jewish Care, helping Londoners; they reflect the very best of organised religion.

“It’s great to see Chanucah celebrated in the greatest city in the world in 2016 and to see examples of events which happened more than 2,000 years ago which are still relevant to modern society.” 

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