Oy humbug! London council CANCELS CHANUKAH over community tension concerns

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Oy humbug! London council CANCELS CHANUKAH over community tension concerns

Decision by Havering to scrap menorah event follows warning by MP Andrew Rosindell that doing so would be 'grave insult to Jewish communities in Romford'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

One of the many chanukiot that dot the city in December
One of the many chanukiot that dot the city in December

A London council has decided not to allow a chanukiah to be erected outside its town hall to commemorate the full eight days of Chanukah over fears it could inflame tensions between local communities.

Jewish News understands the leader of Havering Council in East London made the “highly sensitive” decision not to allow the installation due to the increase in hate crime in the borough following the 7 October Hamas terror attacks.

Instead, the council has recommended “a temporary installation” along with an “event to celebrate the beginning of Chanukah”.

It is understood that local Chabad Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin had committed to lighting the menorah, while there was also a reception planned at Romford Synagogue on 12 December.

Local Romford MP Andrew Rosindell had written to Havering Council leader Ray Morgon expressing “grave concern” over any move to halt the Chanukah celebration. In a letter seen by Jewish News, he adds: “Should this be true it would be a grave insult to Jewish communities in Romford.”

Havering Council

A leaked email seen by Jewish News reveals Havering Council, which which has no single party in overall control but is led by Havering Residents Association, admits taking “the difficult decision to pause the planned installation of the Chanukah menorah outside Havering Town Hall this year”.

It adds: “This is a hugely sensitive issue but in light of escalating tensions from the conflict in the Middle East installing the candelabra now will not be without risk to the council, our partners, our staff and local residents.”

Confirming plans for a temporary installation the email warns about concerns over “possible vandalism or other action against the installation”.

Worryingly it confirms “an increase in the number of hate crimes” in the borough “both towards the Jewish and Muslim community”. It adds: ”After consulting with the leader of the council we believe it would be unwise to move forward with the installation which could risk further inflaming tensions.”

The email from Havering Council rejects claims of “antisemitism” by those it accuses of “politicising” the decision. It notes that Havering Council flew the Israeli flag in “solidarity” after the “heinous”  Hamas terror attacks.

Among those to have raised concerns about the decision to halt the chanukiah installation is Andrew Rosindell, the MP for Romford. In his letter of 24 November, he states that in his view “this is a matter of religious freedom and has nothing to do with  current affairs in the Middle East”.

He adds:”It is imperative that we collectively show support for the British Jewish community” and that it would be “a grave disappointment” to see menorahs erected “all over Essex, Redbridge and North London with Havering being the outlier.”

Jewish News has approached Havering Council leader Morgon for comment.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: