St Albans marks final night of Chanukah with ceremony at Clock Tower
- Credit: Archant
A six-foot high menorah was lit in St Albans town centre last Sunday to celebrate the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper and mayor Janet Smith joined the city's Jewish community to light candles at the Clock Tower for the fifth annual public Menorah lighting.
The event is organised by the St Albans United Synagogue to mark Hanukkah - which is also known as Chanukah, or the Festival of Lights.
A crowd of more than 100 people from the local Jewish community gathered to watch as the candles were lit on a six-foot high Menorah - a nine-branched candelabrum also known as a Chanukiah - under the guidance of the synagogue's minister, Rabbi Daniel Sturgess.
After the formal part of the event was over, the attendees stayed to enjoy free doughnuts handed out by synagogue members. Doughnuts are traditionally eaten by Jews at Chanukah in recognition of the Temple oil miracle in Jerusalem.
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Addressing the crowd, Rabbi Sturgess said: "One of the central themes of Chanukah is that of bringing light into the world. It is a recognition that the world is a dark place, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to make the world a lighter place."
Referring to the previous night's antisemitic attacks in New York, and the appearance of antisemitic graffiti in Hampstead, he added: "It does not go unacknowledged that we are able to stand here and do this wonderful thing of lighting our Chanukiah in the presence of our MP and our mayor and with the protection of the local police. We are so very appreciative of the support we receive from the wider community."
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December 29 was the final night of the eight-day festival which starts with one candle, plus another known as the shamash - meaning helper or servant - used to light all the other candles. An extra candle is added each night until all of the nine candles are lit.
Councillor Smith said: "It is very good to note that St Albans is the sort of place where all can live amicably alongside each other, and it is possible to hold such an event as this where all are welcome."