Theresa May has called for the country to “take pride in the extraordinary contribution” British Jews make to national life.
In her annual Chanukah message, the Prime Minister also pledged to “redouble” efforts to fight antisemitism.
With Jews lighting candles on the menorahs for the first time this evening, Mrs May said she wanted to send her “very best wishes” to those celebrating the festival worldwide.
She said: “Chanukah recalls a time, over two millennia ago, when the Jewish people successfully resisted a vile attempt to wipe out their religion and culture.
“It marks the triumph of freedom over hatred. And it calls on us all – whatever our religion or background – to defend the values and way of life that we share.
“So as the Menorah candles are lit, let us renew that pledge today. Let us celebrate that in Britain you can practise your faith free from question or fear.
“Let us take pride in the extraordinary contribution made by members of the Jewish community in all areas of national life.
“Let us redouble our efforts to fight antisemitism in all its forms – including unequivocally condemning those who abhorrently use criticism of the Israeli government to question the right of Israel to exist.
“And let us draw hope from the message of Chanukah, confident in our values and determined to defeat hatred and extremism wherever it is found – today and for every generation to come.”
Mrs May will not be hosting a Chanukah reception at Downing Street this year, having held a Rosh Hashanah event instead.
Adding his own Chanukah wishes, Jeremy Corbyn said the story of the festival, and the Jews’ struggle “against oppression, for religious freedom, serves as a lesson to us today”.
The Labour leader said: “As Jewish people here in Britain and all over the world light the first candle of the menorah this evening, I want to wish you all a very happy Chanukah.
“Today, we remember the story of Chanukah, when a band of Jewish freedom fighters, led by Judah Maccabee, fought back against Seleucid rule, which sought to stop Jews practicing their religion - and, against extraordinary odds, they won.
“Their struggle against oppression, for religious freedom serves as a lesson to us today.
“Chanukah means dedication, so let us rededicate ourselves this year to the search for a more just, peaceful and equal world.