As regular readers will know, I have always been a keen supporter of all faith groups in Northampton. It is imperative that people of all faiths feel safe and welcome in our community, and I have been very concerned about the worrying rise of anti-Semitism in the country.
I recently attended events marking the Jewish Festival of Chanukah (Festival of Lights). Chanukah marks the success of the Maccabean revolt, which was a Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid Empire in the Jerusalem area between 167 and 160 BC in which the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was re-dedicated.
Chanukah is observed for eight days and nights by lighting nine candles on a candelabrum, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which can occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The reason why it is celebrated for eight days and nights is because according to an ancient text the Holy Temple was purified and the wicks of the candelabrum miraculously burned for eight days despite only having enough oil for one day’s lighting. This year, Chanukah started on Sunday, 2nd December and ends on Monday, 10th and to celebrate the Festival I attended an event in the Speaker’s House in Parliament, an event which was also attended by the Chief Rabbi. I was also invited to attend a similar event at 10 Downing Street which the Prime Minister generously arranged.