Milton Keynes’ first ever public menorah lighting aims to spread a message of light and hope

The Bletchley Park event will feature a nine foot menorah
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Milton Keynes residents are invited to the first ever public menorah lighting in Bletchley Park

This Sunday (December 10), the Chabad Jewish Centre of Milton Keynes is joining the Bletchley Park Trust to host a public menorah lighting and Hanukkah party, to spread a message of light and hope.

The free event, beginning at 6pm, will feature a nine foot menorah – a candelabrum with eight branches – and entertainment for all ages, including a juggling show, lively music, hot drinks and traditional Hanukkah foods. The gathering expects to welcome local residents from Buckinghamshire and the surrounding counties.

Bletchley Park has strong historical links with Judaism.Bletchley Park has strong historical links with Judaism.
Bletchley Park has strong historical links with Judaism.

The event will be attended by dignitaries including Milton Keynes mayor Mick Legg, who will be joined by the CEO of Bletchley Park Iain Standen, the Deputy Lieutenant and the former mayor Debbie Brock.

The gathering provides an opportunity to spread a message of hope after war broke out in Israel after a deadly attack by terror group Hamas in October.

Centre director Rabbi Yitzchak Lew said: “We are immensely honoured to announce 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.”

The park has many connections with the Jewish community, including during World War II, when, as a wartime signals intelligence hub, the park employed dozens of Jewish service men and women.

Pre-war, the Bletchley Park Mansion was home to a prominent Jewish family from Leon, the Leons, and is an example of the phenomenon later described as ‘Jewish Country Houses’ that developed in the 19th century.

The Menorah will be on display alongside the mansion with a board explaining the historical links between Bletchley Park and Judaism.

This event is one of dozens of public menorah lightings across the UK, and many individuals plan to light their menorahs in visible places such as their 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, or Hanukkah, has entered the public sphere.

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