Islington menorah lighting: Visitors flock to Islington Green for 'moving expression of faith in the open air'
PUBLISHED: 10:03 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 03 December 2018
Fairytale adventures, traditional music and a light show delighted crowds at the eighth annual menorah lighting ceremony on Islington Green last night.
The celebrations, run by Chabad Islington, marked the beginning of Hanukkah – the eight-day Jewish festival of light.
Hundreds of people gathered on the Green for the event, from elderly members of the community to an eight-week old baby. Rabbi Mendy Korer, who organised the event, said: “It’s beautiful. We’ve spent eight years doing this event to make Judaism accessible. The community love it and it’s amazing to see how we have grown.”
In a short speech, the rabbi also spoke about how the festival was particularly poignant given recent political tensions and anxieties within the Jewish community.
“The message of Hanukkah is especially important now,” he said.
“We light the candle when it is grey to give us a sense of purpose and meaning.”
The menorah, designed by local artist Brian Scott, was unveiled by the daughter of Raymond Harris, who helped fund the annual lighting ceremony.
Mr Harris sadly died earlier this year, but was known as the “zeide [grandfather] of Islington”.
The mayor of Islington Cllr Dave Poyser, who helped light the candle, said: “I was very honoured to be lighting the menorah candle with Rabbi Mendy this evening.
“The council is very pleased to be able to support what is a key part of our wonderfully multicultural borough.”
As well as the performances, there were more interactive elements, such as a special Hanukkah-themed Snapchat filter, alongside a kiosk serving free latkes – traditional Jewish potato pancakes. There were four different flavours of latke and people could vote to decide which was the best.
The celebrations were appreciated by members of the Islington Jewish community and beyond.
Dr Phillip Lewis, who travelled from Putney with his wife, children and grandchildren, said: “I was very moved to see such an expression of faith in the open air.”