Thousands of people turned out in Trafalgar Square despite the cold weather on Tuesday to celebrate the start of Chanukah.
Chanukah in the Square is the biggest annual Chanukah celebration in the UK and attendees were treated to a performance from the Maccabeats and free doughnuts which are customarily eaten on Chanukah to symbolise the miracle of oil.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, addressed the crowd alongside the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the UK Sharon Bar-li. The Menorah, which is one of the tallest in the world will be lit for all eight nights of the festival.
Chanukah in the Square is organised by the Jewish Leadership Council, Chabad Lubavitch and the London Jewish Forum and supported by the Mayor of London.
The Mayor of London, said: “Happy Chanukah to everyone who is celebrating here in London and around the world. Chanukah celebrates freedom from religious oppression, a message that very much resonates here in London and I’m delighted that this year’s festivities have returned to the heart of the capital in Trafalgar Square.”
“The enormous contribution the Jewish community makes to our city is a shining example of London at its best, and shows what can be achieved when London is open – open to all cultures and open to people from all backgrounds. Chanukah Sameach!”
Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council said: “The vibrancy of Chanukah in the Square has brought a warm glow to all of us. At a time when we constantly see antisemitism in the news and negative stories about our faith, we are all extremely proud to celebrate together in Trafalgar Square and bring thousands of Londoners together for what is one of the highlights of the Jewish calendar.”
Adrian Cohen, the chairman of London Jewish Forum said: ‘It was fantastic to see such a large and lively crowd in the square drawn from all backgrounds celebrating Chanukah with the Mayor of our great City. It is a reminder of the City’s strength in cultural diversity and inter communal friendship.”
Rabbi Bentzi Sudak, the CEO of Chabad Lubavitch UK said: “Tonight’s event was incredible. A huge testament to our vibrant community. The weather may have been on the cold side, but the warmth of the occasion more than compensated. We hope the light and message of Chanukah makes its way to brighten the lives of all Londoners.
“A huge thank you to our partners and the JLC and LJF – it’s tremendous what can be accomplished when we work together!”