'Even the weak can help': Hackney Council hosts first-ever dedicated Hanukkah event
PUBLISHED: 15:56 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:40 02 January 2020
Sean Pollock Photographer
Hackney Council's first-ever dedicated Hanukkah event saw live music, speeches and the lighting of a specially built 12ft menorah in the Town Hall Square.
Dozens of people from all backgrounds and ages were entertained by cello and piano music from musician Kate Shortt, before a welcoming speech from the Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Kam Adams.
Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, the president of the Stamford Hill volunteer safety group Shomrim, who was honoured five years ago for his services to interfaith understanding, reminded the crowd of the Hanukkah message.
He said: "Hackney is a special place that for hundreds of years has welcomed people who have been excluded. Hackney people actually connect with one another. It's a great privilege to signal the lighting of the menorah.
"It reminds us that light is in our hands. We don't just care about our homes - we want to illuminate our street and our society. Everybody should be touched by this great festival."
The eight-day Jewish celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC, when Jews rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt.
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It is marked by the successive kindling of eight lights, and each of the remaining candles on the menorah will be lit up by nightfall in the forthcoming days.
Resident Lise Magnollay, said: "I really enjoyed the music and it's really great to remind us of the message that even the weak can help.
"A single candle can't bring a lot of light but if you have a lot of candles together you get a lot of light so you have this idea of community but also a reminder to turn towards the outside."
Speaker of Hackney, Cllr Kam Adams, said: "We were delighted to welcome Hanukkah into the Town Hall Square and learn from its message of which we can all relate to.
"Sharing traditions and cultural celebrations is what makes Hackney special and it was great to see such a diversity of residents come out and enjoy the festivities."
Last year Hanukkah was celebrated in Hackney alongside the Christmas lights switch-on.