Chanukah in the Square is one of the best Jewish events of the year. Not only is it a great celebration of Jewish music, food and culture, it also symbolises that London is a great city to live if you are Jewish. In many ways, it resonates with the story of Chanukah – defiance in the face of opposition and victory against the odds.
With increasing challenges to communal Jewish life all around the world, it is more important than ever to be able to take the time to celebrate our culture, our faith and our heritage. It is easy to be gloomy about Jewish life. It is easy to be scared by the issues around anti-Semitism. But Chanukah brings us together.
Five thousand people are expected to attend the event next week in Trafalgar Square – a true representation of the community in London – from people of all faiths and none.
On Tuesday we can celebrate with pride this most joyful of festivals. Chanukah in the Square is a bright, exciting and loud celebration which shows our spirit and vibrancy.
We are reminded all too often of the threats, incidents and pressures in society. But the fact that we have the right to celebrate, sing, dance and be Jewish, in the heart of London, is enough to show that our culture, heritage and faith is accepted in one of the most diverse cities in the world.
This past year has seen a number of occasions to remind us of the spirit of the Jewish community. Both Mitvah Day and Shabbat UK were inspiring, and the Balfour centenary brought together thousands of people at events across the country to celebrate an important part of our history.
Balfour 100 was the most co-operative and comprehensive community endeavour I have experienced. I am proud of how we put on such a fantastic range of events for everyone. Chanukah in the Square allows people from all backgrounds to enjoy Jewish culture.
Our community makes a huge contribution to society in London, and this gives us the chance to proudly show our strength and spirit of togetherness.
We are fortunate to be able to celebrate Chanukah each year in this way, and on this scale, in such a big city. In many European countries, this would not be the case due to security concerns, the threat of terrorism and such.
We are lucky to have the CST and the police to ensure appropriate security and allow an atmosphere and space to celebrate in this way.
This is the most joyful of Jewish festivals, and it’s a credit to our city that we are able to celebrate in this way. Jewish people should be proud to be living in the UK, and proud to celebrate their culture in the heart of London. I hope to see as many people as possible in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday.