Havering Council urged to reconsider ‘historic error’ over Chanukah snub

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Havering Council urged to reconsider ‘historic error’ over Chanukah snub

London Jewish Forum says decision to scrap the planned Chanukah lighting by East London council risks 'undermining relationship' with the community

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Havering Town Hall.
Havering Town Hall.

Communal leaders have urged Havering Council to reconsider their decision to cancel the planned installation of a Chanukah menorah outside its town hall.

Jewish News revealed Oy humbug! London council CANCELS CHANUKAH over community tension concerns how the leader of the East London council 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.

But responding to the move, which was widely condemned, the Jewish Leadership Council said: “Cancelling the planned installation of a menorah as a result of the rise in antisemitism is the worst possible way to respond to hatred. The council must reverse this decision and work with their local community to repair the damage this decision has caused.”

The London Jewish Forum also wrote to Havering Council leader Ray Morgon expressing “deep dismay” at the decision to halt the Chanukah commemoration.

The organisation, co-chaired by Andrew Gilbert and Adrian Cohen, demanded a meeting with council chiefs to “avoid a historic error” being made which “undermined” Havering’s relationship with the Jewish community.

Havering Council

Romford Rabbi Lee Sunderland also said: “We have absolutely not the slightest hint that there maybe any unrest here in Havering.

“Indeed to write in public that there is fear for the safety of staff and councillors is a reckless statement in itself that could give rise to the fact that the very presence of certain minorities in the borough poses a potential danger to the leaders of local government and their employees. That is a reckless comment that in itself causes totally unfounded fear in people.”

An email on the matter sent by Havering Council had stated: “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”.

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