Jewish life exhibit and Menorah lighting cancelled

Jewish life exhibit and Menorah lighting cancelled

Tensions and anti-Semitism are skyrocketing in the West since the war broke out in Gaza. With the potential for risks on the rise Jewish events are being called off. Jewish organisations, however, are condemning these decisions.

WORLD DECEMBER 7. 2023 15:55

A menorah candle lighting ceremony at an arts festival in Virginia in the US has been canceled citing concerns about Israel’s war with Hamas. Festival founder Shirley Vermillion told the local Virginia Gazette that the Hanukkah celebration „seemed very inappropriate” in light of the conflict.

„The concern is of folks feeling like we are siding with a group over the other … not a direction we ever decide to head,”

Vermillion said.

Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin criticised the decision in a message on X: „Singling out the Jewish community by cancelling this Hanukkah celebration is absurd and antisemitic.” The former speaker of the Virginia House of Representatives, Democrat Eileen Filler-Corn, had a similar opinion, calling on the organisers to withdraw the decision.

she wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

The Virginia Gazette also reported that a Williamsburg rabbi found a new location for the ceremony, while organisers denied the event was ever cancelled because it wasn’t scheduled but merely a suggestion to begin with. As they said, the festival never hosted a religious program among its events.

Rabbi Mendy Heber of Chabad Williamsburg told the newspaper that his intention with having the menorah candles lit at the festival was to „bring people together with Jewish pride and unity.”

A West London borough council has cancelled an exhibition on Jewish culture in the UK, citing security concerns. A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said of the decision: “Hounslow is one of the most diverse boroughs in London and we value and celebrate that diversity. The decision to postpone the two-week exhibition to be held in the public area was not taken lightly, and we appreciate the disappointment and inconvenience it caused.”

„However, due to the current situation in Gaza and associated increase in reported hate crimes, there is significant heightened risk to personal safety across London and consideration of this had to take precedence,”

the spokesperson explained.

The exhibition has been run by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 40 years to teach and inform non-Jewish children and adults about communal traditions and festivals.

“At a time of hugely increased anti-Semitism around the country it is baffling that any council would choose to cancel an exhibition with the potential to provide context and understanding,” the vice-president of the organisation commented.

With rising tensions over the war in Israel, another London borough also decided to cancel the display of a menorah outside its town hall this year.

The Havering Borough Council had planned to erect the symbolic installation to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, but cancelled the display of candles over concerns it „could risk further inflaming tensions within our communities”.

But after a backlash, the local authority decided to go ahead as planned.



hanukkah, menorah, uk, usa