Dec 3, 2013
First Menorah for UK City

Over 200 people came to participate in historic first Public Menorah Lighting in Loughton, Essex UK by Shluchim Rabbi Odom Brandman of Buckhurst Hill and Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin of Ilford.

Chabad, who worked in partnership with the local Loughton Synagogue held a historic event last night when the first ever Public Menorah Lighting ceremony took place on Loughton High Road in the heart of Loughton.

Rabbi Odom Brandman from Chabad in Buckhurst Hill who put together the logistics of the event said: “We were hoping to have up to 40 people for this first event and were totally overwhelmed when over 200 people came to participate and support this event.”

Together with his colleague, Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin from Chabad Ilford, the Rabbis had met with various local Council members and local dignitaries in order to arrange the permission necessary for this new Menorah to stand for the duration of Chanukah and for a public ceremony to be held.

A Menorah is a symbol of Peace and Freedom. The Jewish Community celebrate their 8 day festival of Chanukah – The Festival of Lights – each year during the winter. The festival is a joyous one celebrating Jewish survival through centuries of hardships. It commemorates specifically the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times after oppression from the Greeks.

“It’s really beautiful to be able to have a public Menorah in Loughton where the Jewish community is prominent and brings so much to the neighbourhood. The council’s encouragement and the words of greeting by the Mayor, who was guest of honour at the lighting, is also a great expression of their commitment to promote peace amongst the local communities,” said Rabbi Brandman of the Chabad Jewish Community Centre in Buckhurst Hill.

The Menorah has been erected on Standard Green opposite Marks & Spencer and the Two Kitchens Tuscany Restaurant for the duration of the Chanukah festival. The Chanukah festival began this year at sundown on Wednesday 27th November 2013 and lasts for 8 days.

The idea of having a new Menorah in Loughton was a dream of Cllr Neil Cohen, a local business owner on Loughton High Road, vice-Chairman of the Loughton Town Partnership, a Councillor on the Buckhurst Hill Parish Council and a member of the Chabad Jewish Centre in Buckhurst Hill. Rabbi Odom Brandman, who has arranged the Menorahs in Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell was delighted with the developments and after various meetings and communications with the various councils and support from Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, Director of Chabad North East London & Essex who has arranged for a Menorah on Gants Hill roundabout for 27 years now, all the permissions were granted and a Menorah is now standing in place.

Although a permanent electricity supply was not yet able to be arranged and a microphone was not yet able to be used, over 200 people came to join in the lighting. Traditional potato latkes, doughnuts and hot chocolate was enjoyed by all and Rabbis Brandman and Sufrin addressed the crowd followed by words of greeting from the Mayor of Loughton who was honoured to light the centre candle on a small table top Menorah brought in specially for the event. Rabbi Zvi Portnoy, the new Rabbi at Loughton Synagogue then made the blessings and lit the first of the 6 candles for the 6th night of Chanukah. Rabbi Portnoy joked that 2 speeches from 2 Rabbis was probably enough for the evening, so he would just get on and light the candles, he then proceeded to light the first candle himself and then invite 3 members of his community to come and light candles too.

Rabbi Brandman closed the event by thanking everyone who came along and the many people, especially Cllr Neil Cohen who helped make the event possible and really did go the extra mile and took a personal interest in every aspect of the actual Menorah and the event itself. All children were then called forward to receive chocolate coins from the Rabbis and pictures were taken by Phil Harris a local photographer and good friend to Chabad.

Rabbi Sufrin said: “This should be the first of many more such ceremonies in Loughton and we look forward to making it bigger and better for next year”.

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