Islington Green menorah lighting 2019: Hundreds savour 'phenomenal' festive spirit as annual celebration gets futuristic twist
PUBLISHED: 18:06 23 December 2019
Hundreds of people experienced "phenomenal" festive spirit at the annual Islington menorah lighting ceremony on Sunday, December 22.
The event in Islington Green marked the first night of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, Hanukkah, and was attended by some 750 people.
It was the ninth such shindig on the green and crowds were wowed by the world's first kinetic menorah, created by digital artist Jeremy Keenan. Organisers say the event has grown to become the "second-biggest public menorah lighting in the UK", second only to the Trafalgar Square gathering.
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Islington Council supports the local menorah lighting with grant money and it is hosted by Chabad Islington, which organises events and educational activities with the aim of revitalising the borough's Jewish community.
Rabbi Mendy Korer, who co-founded Chabad Islington with his wife, Hadasa, in 2011, told the Gazette: "Turnout was packed, once again. The vibe of the place was unbelievable, credit to the band for creating that. We had a plasma band and the energy they generated, the Hanukkah festive spirit that ran through the crowd was absolutely phenomenal. People were dancing until the end of the event. One person came over to me and, told me they were foreigners celebrating Hanukkah in Islington and they were just feeling at home, feeling that festive spirit."
He thanked Islington Council for being "really supportive" and enabling the event to happen, adding: "For the community to have positive festive events where they can celebrate their identity proudly, publicly, is something we can't get enough off."
Speaking ahead of the event, Islington Council leader Richard Watts said: "Chabad Islington plays an important role in bringing together our community, educating people about Judaism and leading Islington's thriving Jewish community fortifying our reputation of being a welcoming and inclusive borough."
People danced to tunes from an electro klezmer set by collective GhettoPlotz and heard sci-fi stories, in keeping with the futuristic laser menorah theme, from Vanessa Woolf about Chanukah in space. The crowds enjoyed delicious latkes and doughnuts, ancient songs, instrumental klezmer, Chanukah gelt, and a shadow puppet workshop with the Little Angel Theatre.