At Chanukah, we celebrate the redemption of the Jewish people from the yoke of their oppressors. In the darkness of winter, we light candles to represent freedom and hope. Never has Chanukah been more meaningful than this year. Israel was plunged into darkness on 7 October 2023 by the most appalling terrorist massacre that the country has ever experienced. We have all grieved for those lost and abducted and prayed for the safe return of the hostages still in the clutches of Hamas.
With antisemitism at record levels, this has also been a difficult time for the UK Jewish community. Jews have been abused in the streets, antisemitic graffiti has appeared, schools have been defaced and Jewish students and schoolchildren have been so intimidated that they feel unable to wear visible Jewish symbols. However, if Chanukah teaches us anything it is that dark periods in our history always pass and that light returns.
However, that does not mean that we can sit idly by and wait. The Board of Deputies, along with communal partners, has held vigils and rallies to call for the hostages to be returned. We have made representations to Government over the high level of antisemitism. We have briefed the community about the problems faced by students, schoolchildren and employees, and have resources available to help those who are dealing with hostile work spaces. We have held meetings with broadcasters, including the BBC, over their refusal to use the word “terrorist” about Hamas. We will continue to work hard on your behalf.
I wish you and your family a happy and above all a peaceful Chanukah.
President, Board of Deputies of British Jews
Image credit: Gary Perlmutter