Chanukah in London

21 December 2016

Adrian Cohen chairs the London Jewish Forum. He tells us about the Jewish festival of lights, Chanukah, which starts on 24 December…

On the evening many Londoners gather around their Christmas trees, Jewish Londoners will also come together to celebrate Chanukah. For the following eight days, Jews will light the menorah, an eight-branch candelabrum.

Chanukah stems from the Hebrew word for dedication and has the same roots as the word for education – chinuch. This is something that has always been at the heart of Jewish faith and Jewish life.

The festival remembers the Jewish rebels’ triumph against Antiochus Epiphanes, a tyrant ruled Ancient Greece over 2,000 years ago. He tried unsuccessfully to force Jewish people to abandon their faith.

Today, life in the London of 2016 couldn’t be more different. The city welcomes people of all faiths and is all the richer for it.

Like every year, Jewish Londoners will remember not to take the civil rights and cultural freedoms we enjoy here for granted. London is a truly open, diverse and vibrant city. Sadly, there are still many places around the world where such freedoms do not exist.

Earlier this month, the London Jewish Forum and City Hall jointly hosted a Chanukah reception. We were joined by Mayor Sadiq Khan, London Assembly Members, councilors and faith group leaders, coming together across various different religious, ethnic and political divides to show #LondonIsOpen to all.

Now as the holidays approach, I’d like to end by wishing season’s greetings to you and your family.  Have a Happy New Year and Chanukah Sameach – Happy Chanukah!

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