Jewish community in Milton Keynes hosts first ever public Menorah Lighting at Bletchley Park

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Event was held In Celebration of the ‘Festival of Lights’

The Chabad Jewish Centre of Milton Keynes joined the Bletchley Park Trust to host a public Menorah lighting and Hanukkah party yesterday.

(10/12)

The event featured a 9ft menorah as well offering an array of entertainment for all ages, including a juggling show, music, hot drinks and a selection of traditional Hanukkah foods. It was attended by several dignitaries, including Milton Keynes mayor Mick Legg, Bletchley Park chief executive Iain Standen, and Debbie Brock, the Deputy Lieutenant of Bucks and former mayor of Milton Keynes.

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The first ever Menorah lighting was hosted by the Jewish community of Milton Keynes in partnership with The Bletchley Park TrustThe first ever Menorah lighting was hosted by the Jewish community of Milton Keynes in partnership with The Bletchley Park Trust
The first ever Menorah lighting was hosted by the Jewish community of Milton Keynes in partnership with The Bletchley Park Trust

Rabbi Yitzchak Lew, director at Chabad Jewish Centre of Milton Keynes, said: “We are immensely honoured to have held the first public menorah lighting at Bletchley Park, a site that represents the victory of good over evil. Since October 7, the Jewish community has resolved to celebrate their identity with more confidence and resolve. This public Hanukkah celebration is about sharing light and joy with Milton Keynes and the broader community.”

Bletchley Park employed dozens of Jewish service men and women during the Second World War, many with personal connections to the horrors unfolding in Europe, contributing significantly to the code-breaking efforts that aided the allied war effort. Pre-war, the Bletchley Park Mansion was home to a prominent Jewish family from London, The Leons, and is an example of the phenomenon later described as ‘Jewish Country Houses’ that developed in the 19th century. The Menorah was on display alongside the Mansion with an information board explaining the historical links between Bletchley Park and Judaism.

The event was one of more than 150 menorah lightings organised by Chabad Lubavitch centres across the UK, with many lighting individual menorahs in doors and windows. The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched the Hanukkah awareness campaign in 1973, and in the half-century since, the “Festival of Lights” has entered the public sphere. The Menorah, with its universal message of freedom of the human spirit, freedom from tyranny and oppression, and of the ultimate victory of good over evil–has since won a place not only in Jewish life, but also in the life of the general populace.