The National Jewish Assembly (NJA) commends Havering Council for its recent decision to reverse the cancellation of the Chanukah celebration, allowing the public installation of a menorah to go ahead as originally planned. While we are pleased with this positive development, the NJA expresses disbelief and disappointment that such a decision was even considered due to fears from external pressures.
Havering Council leaders had initially faced significant criticism for their controversial decision not to permit a chanukiah outside the town hall to commemorate the eight days of Chanukah. This decision had rightly caused uproar within the Jewish community and drew condemnation from leaders of other faiths who recognised the importance of religious freedom and unity.
In a joint statement, Havering Council, the London Jewish Forum, the Essex Jewish Community Council, and local rabbis confirmed the U-turn and expressed their commitment to the installation of the menorah as initially intended.
NJA Chairman Gary Mond said, “While we welcome the council’s decision to reinstate the Chanukah celebration, it is disheartening that this decision was ever in question. The cancellation due to fears of tensions between communities sends the wrong message by undermining the principle of religious freedom while acquiescing to the threat posed by the pro-Palestine mob.”
The NJA believes that it is crucial to continue fostering a cohesive and inclusive environment within our borough and to celebrate our diverse cultures and faiths. The NJA hopes that this incident serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding these values and standing with the Jewish community even in challenging times.