What could possibly bring together representatives of many faiths and a good number of their congregants, the Major and Majoress of Lewisham along with various representatives from Lewisham Council? Add to those a Member of Parliament, representatives from the armed forces, other Jewish organisations and many from Catford and Bromley and Bromley Reform Synagogues and there you have it. A throng joined together to light the fifth candle on our Chanukiah, hosted by the Council in the Lewisham Civic Centre.
The idea was the brainchild of the Major of Lewisham, Damien Egan and the organisation was handled by the synagogue Outreach committee. With hard work, tenacity and enthusiasm they worked with Lewisham Council to put together a superb Chanukah party.
The evening started with entertainment from accordionists, Benzion and Claudio. The story of Chanukah was explained and the part played by the dreidl. The explanation was interspersed with appropriate Jewish melodies. Everybody received their own dreidle so nobody was going to be bored.
Our Minister and Cantor David Rome sung the blessing and songs prior to and after lighting the candles. Chairman Joe Burchell and the Mayor, Damien Egan, presided over the candle lighting by specially selected guests who included the Mayoress, Catford’s Liane Segal, our “first lady”,and the Archdeacon of Lewisham & Greenwich, Alastair Cutting.
Entertainment continued with the Yiddish Ukulele group who played several traditional melodies.
The fantastic kosher food – latkes, doughnuts, sandwiches and more – emulated the story of the Chanukah oil: not knowing how many people would come, the organisers had laid on enough for a moderate attendance, but the food lasted until all had been able to enjoy them. The accordion players then took over again and, despite the fact that the room was packed, their lively playing inspired a good many to spontaneously start Israeli dancing culminating in a huge conga line, which picked up everyone from babes to the Mayor on its way around the room.
This was a night to remember with so much goodwill being generated and fun had. Thanks are due to everyone who made the evening such a success, Phoenix Housing Association for sponsorship and to Lewisham Borough for making all of us so welcome.