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Merton celebrates religious harmony with first public Chanukah menorah lighting

By Emma Lindsay
January 02 2020, 16.00

The first ever public menorah lighting in Merton took place at Wimbledon train station to mark the first day of Chanukah last month.

The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Janice Howard, was invited to light the first candle at sunset in front of the crowd that had gathered to take part in the celebration.

Nick Panchev, a Wimbledon resident, said: “This gives my children a sense of pride in their heritage. I wish they had this where I grew up.”

Many of the families assembled to watch the ceremony had come from nearby towns so their children could take part.

There was a party atmosphere as glow sticks were handed out and doughnuts, one of the traditional foods of Chanukah, were passed around.

Cllr Howard said: “I feel very honoured and very lucky to be the mayor here tonight to light the candle.”

She continued: “I think it’s really important to the whole of the London Borough of Merton to show that as a community we are multi-cultural, we all get on harmoniously, despite our differences in religion and background.”

Rabbi Nissan Dubov, Director of the Chabad Synagogue in Wimbledon, explained the significance of the festival for the benefit of the many Christmas shoppers who had stopped to watch the ceremony.

Rabbi Dubov said: “Chanukah has extremely powerful lessons for each one of us today.

“Each one of us is a candle and each one of us should give out light and warmth to those around us.”

He added that the community and council, as well as Wimbledon Station staff, had been very supportive in the organization of the event.

He said: “We’ve been in Wimbledon many years but this is the very first time we’ve had a public menorah lighting and it’s a tremendous sign of religious freedom.”

For the seven days in December, an additional menorah candle was lit at sunset in Wimbledon Station forecourt accompanied by traditional blessings.

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