Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has wished London’s Jewish community “a very Happy Hanukkah.”
The festival, which runs from 16 to 23 December, symbolises the light of religious, national and cultural freedom for Jewish people.
In honour of the festival Mayor Livingstone will be joined by Rabbi Overlander for a ceremony which will see the lighting of a nine-feet tall Menorah at City Hall on Wednesday 20 December.
Traditionally, one of the nine candles is lit on each night of the eight-day festival by the ninth and central candle, which is called the Shamash.
The tradition is almost 2,400 years old and the festival is widely celebrated by Jewish families with the exchanging of gifts, parties, games and delicacies such as potato pancakes and doughnuts.
Speaking today the Mayor paid tribute to the positive impact made by London’s Jewish population over the centuries saying they had “made incalculable contributions to world literature, learning, art and commerce” and “continue to make a major contribution to London’s success as a great world city.”
“Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the joy of religious freedom. This city’s prosperity as the world’s greatest international business centre, as well as its social harmony, entirely depends on our ability to enjoy and respect the diversity of cultures and faiths which enables this city to welcome people from every part of the world.”