Pared down Chanukah celebrations amid safety concerns among local Jewish communities

Design: Harry Merrell

The festive season is fast approaching and for the next eight days its Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights.  

The festival celebrates a miracle that occurred over 2000 years ago.  

During the time of the second Jewish temple, the Jews were ruled by the Ancient Greeks. Eventually, a group of Jewish people rose up and recovered their temple. That night, they discovered there was only enough oil to last them one night. However, it miraculously lasted eight days and eight nights. 

To celebrate this miracle, Jewish people light a candle each night for eight nights and eat oily foods such as doughnuts and latkes (fried potatoes and onion).  

The celebration, which takes place on December 7 to 15 this year, has sparked a few community events across the Eastlondonlines boroughs to mark the festival.  

There are fewer public events this year due to concerns over safety of attendees. In Lewisham there have been two cancelled events and Croydon are not hosting any.

Pic: Pixaby

Hackney’s Menorah Lighting: December 7 to 15 – Free 

A 12ft menorah has been erected in Hackney’s Town Hall Square, and a new light will be illuminated on each night of Chanukah. 

On the first night of Chanukah, December 7, there will be a special candle lighting ceremony starting at 6pm. Residents will be able to attend the event in person or livestream it via Love Hackney

The ceremony will begin with a welcome by Councillor Sade Etti, which will be followed by a prayer from Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE and the first light will be switched on. 

After the candle is lit, guests will be invited into the Town Hall to hear music by Miles De Cruz and the Simon Marks School Choir.  

There will also be speeches by Rabbi Gluck, Mayor Caroline Woodley, and the Speaker of Hackney, Anya Sizer.  

Kehillah North London Community Chanukah Event: December 9 – Free 

A Chanukah party is taking place at St Mary’s Community Rooms, where the Stoke Newington community will be able to gather together to commemorate the festival by lighting candles, singing songs, and eating latkes.  

A Very Homo and Houmous Chanukah: December 11-14 – £23 

Homo and Houmous, a ‘queer Jewish theatre’ group, are putting on a queer rendition of the Chanukah story at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick.  

The performance will involve drag and music and has been described by the group as a ‘salacious, sebaceous, seriously sexy seasonal sensation.’  

No prior Jewish knowledge is required, and there will be special guests on stage throughout the night.  

Chanukah Menorah Paper Craft at Walthamstow Library: December 13 – Free 

Walthamstow Library is hosting a Chanukah Kids Craft so that children can immerse themselves in the joyous spirit of the festival.  

Children will have the opportunity to make paper menorahs while learning about the significance of Chanukah traditions.  

Chanukah Menorah Paper Craft at North Chingford Library: December 12 – Free 

Each week, North Chingford Library hosts craft sessions for local families. On December 12, attendees will be able to make paper menorahs to celebrate Chanukah.  

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