250 People Attend Giant Menorah Lighting in Oxford with Heads of Oxford Colleges

Thursday, 2 December, 2010 - 5:29 pm

P1010869.JPGOver 250 people turned out in the heart of Oxford City Centre, outside Balliol College, to attend the 10th annual giant Menorah lighting on Broad Street, Oxford, organised by Chabad of Oxford.

The ceremony was attended by an impressive high profile line-up of Oxford dignitaries, including three Heads of Colleges, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Oxford University and Rector of Exeter College, Frances Cairncross; President of Trinity College and former British Ambassador of Italy, Sir Ivor Roberts; and acting Principal of Brasenose College, Camden Professor of Ancient History, Alan K. Bowman.

In addition to university heads, seven City Councillors of Oxford City Council attended, and several chaplains of Oxford Colleges, including Dean and chaplain of Balliol, Chaplain of St John’s College, the Buddhist chaplain and others.

The high profile Chanukah ceremony this year was also attended by the President of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, Simon Ryde, expressing the support on behalf of the Oxford Jewish Congregation for the event.

As this year Chanukah fell out during Oxford University term, for the first time in ten years, hundreds of students attended the ceremony, consuming with much joy all the 200 doughnuts that were brought for the event. Due to this early falling of Chanukah, the President of the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), David Barclays, attended the event and expressed his appreciation for the Menorah lighting, allowing Jews to also have their public display of tradition in Oxford.

Enjoying the presence of the students this year, the Menorah was lit on the first night by the President of the Oxford University Chabad Society, Michael Bodansky (Pembroke) and the second night by Jewish Society presidents, Gaby Aberbach and Sarah Goldhill.

The presentations at the ceremony were delivered by Rector of Exeter College, who spoke on the theme of light over darkness, and Cllr Elise Benjamin, who paid respect to the late Jewish City Councillor and fellow of Balliol College, Dr. Mike Wooden, in whose memory the Menorah is lit every year, as he was instrumental in helping establish the tradition of the giant Menorah in Oxford with Chabad of Oxford in 2001.

Rabbi Eli Brackman, director of Chabad of Oxford chaired the event. Rabbi Brackman warmly welcomed the audience, who defied the freezing temperatures, and spoke about the pride of Jewish identity that is expressed by the public menorah lightings in Oxford.

The ceremony concluded with the lighting of a tin-can Menorah for the homeless in Oxford, donated by Asda in Witney, Oxfordshire, followed by fire & Glow Juggling by Juggling John of Oxford.

Reflecting the uniqueness of the event, undergraduate student Jonathan Hoyland described the event as ‘epic’.  

City Dignitaries who attended the lighting of the Menorah, included: City Councillor for Quarry & Risinghurst, Oscar Van Nooijen; City Councillor for Wolvercote, Mike Gotch; City Councillor for Jericho and Osney Ward, Susanna Pressel; Leader of the Green Group on the City Council, Cllr David Williams; City Councillor, Elise Benjamin; Cllr Gill Sanders; Cllr John Sanders;, President of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, Simon Ryde

Following the lighting ceremony and entertainment, about 50 students attended a Chanukah buffet and party at the Slager Jewish student centre, just a 2 minute walk from the Menorah lighting on Broad Street.



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