Chanukah has become one of the most well-known festivals of the Jewish calendar. As British Jews we really appreciate the delight of celebrating a festival of lights at the darkest and coldest time of year. We mark Chanukah for eight days from the 25th of Kislev.
Chanukah literally means the festival of dedication, as it celebrates the rededicated of the temple, so although we know we are always holding in balance our various identities, Chanukah is also an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to our Judaism.
Chanukah is a festival that exemplifies our ability to hold in balance our cultural, national, and religious identities. We all do it in different ways, but Chanukah presents incredible opportunities for us to really engage with living as proud Jews in a non-Jewish society. We are asked to place our Chanukiyah in a window where it is visible, unless it would be unsafe to do so. We witness the miracle of Chanukah to the outside world, and have been welcomed to do so by local communities, as well as local and national Governments, with public Chanukiah lightings, in small villages and in Trafalgar Square. This is an opportunity to be very public in our Jewish observance, to share it with those around us, and to occupy a place in the world that sometimes we might have shied away from.
Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue, talks about her childhood memories and what Chanukah means in society today in this article, you can read more here.