This year we will be celebrating Chanukkah once again with a special day of activities on Shabbat Chanukkah, which falls on 16 December. The day will begin with a morning service at 11 AM, followed by kiddush and a chavurah lunch – please bring a vegetarian or permitted fish dish to share. Hopefully, we will also have latkes! In the afternoon, starting at 1:30 PM, there will be activities for Shabbatots and the Beit Lameid children. For adults, we are delighted that Rabbi Dr Michael Hilton, author of Bar Mitzvah: A History, will be addressing us to mark the 200th anniversary since the first Bat Mitzvah. We will then come together at 3 PM for refreshments and doughnuts, before marking the end of Shabbat with havdalah, followed by the lighting of the fifth candle – so do bring your chanukkiyyah and candles – and the singing of Chanukkah songs.

We will conclude the day with the launching of Celebrating Shabbat, a booklet of Hebrew text, transliterations and translations to accompany the YISM’CHU CD of Shabbat songs I produced with Andy Cable in 2007. Beginning with my essay on ‘Keeping Shabbat as Liberal Jews’, the 52-page booklet also includes Erev Shabbat kiddush, havdalah and birkat ha-mazon (thanksgiving after meals), as well as the Torah and Haftarah blessings. The production of Celebrating Shabbat was made possible by a grant from the North London Progressive Synagogue Trust and is available for a donation of £5, which will go into the newly established BHPS Youth Fund to enable attendance at LJY-Netzer events. For those who don’t have it, copies of the CD will also available at a donation of £10 into the Youth Fund.

Chanukkah is a time for celebration. The story behind it also reminds us of our responsibility to challenge oppression in our own day and to think of those who do not have much to celebrate. So, this Chanukkah, as we light the chanukkiyyah each evening and express our gratitude for the victory of the Maccabees against the tyrannical Assyrian Greek empire in 164 BCE, after a year that has seen devastating events, let us also express hope for all those experiencing loss, suffering and persecution. You may wish to dedicate each night’s candle-lighting as a declaration of hope in this way:

  1. Those fleeing terrorism and war, especially in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Burundi.
  2. The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, whose villages have been burnt down in deliberate acts of ethnic cleansing.
  3. Those maimed and bereaved in terrorist attacks, in particular in London, Manchester, Paris, Brussels and Barcelona.
  4. Those bereaved and made homeless by the monsoon floods in Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  5. Those bereaved and made homeless by the hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean and southern United States.
  6. Those bereaved and made homeless by ferocious earthquakes, especially in central Italy, Mexico, Iran and Iraq.
  7. Those bereaved and injured by mass shootings in the US, in particular, in Las Vegas, the worst so far.
  8. All those persecuted, oppressed and denied their human rights throughout the world, not least those who endure the chains of slavery.


Chanukkah Samei’ach!

Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah