The Board of Deputies of British Jews, together with the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, held its Annual Parliamentary Chanukah Reception on Tuesday 16 December. The reception was sponsored by Robert Halfon MP.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow MP was the principal speaker. He was joined on the podium by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the APPG on British Jews Matthew Offord MP, President of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron MP, His Excellency Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub, and Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis.
Also in attendance were Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism Laura Janner-Klausner, Liberal Judaism President Andrew Goldstein, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism Jonathan Wittenberg and Senior Rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation Joseph Dweck.
In his speech, John Bercow commented on the need for minority groups to work together and recognise common denominators in fighting for equality. He spoke of his personal Jewish story and highlighted the need to remain vigilant regarding antisemitism.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that social media organisations and the police need to rise to the challenge of hate crimes on social media.
Liberal Democrats President Tim Farron spoke of the importance of the Board’s work reaching parts of the country which have less contact with the Jewish community.
Following the speeches, Chief Rabbi Mirvis lit the first candle and the audience were treated to a performance by the Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School Choir.
President of the Board Vivian Wineman said: “I was delighted that the Board hosted a Chanukah lighting ceremony for the third year in Parliament in conjunction with the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews addressed by the Chief Rabbi, the Israeli Ambassador and representatives of all three main political parties as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons. I found it particularly moving to be celebrating our festival of religious freedom in the mother of parliaments.”