Baruch atah, adonai elohenu, melech ha’olam,
shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu,’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
 

No this isn’t a technical glitch!  It is, in fact, the transliteration of an ancient Hebrew blessing:

Blessed are You, our God, Sovereign of all,
Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
 

The blessing is recited every day this week as Jews mark the festival of Chanukah. I say ‘mark’, rather than ‘celebrate’, as, it comes at a time regarded by many Jews as the darkest period since the Holocaust. The nature of the terror attacks of 7th October, the loss of innocent life in the aftermath, and the spike in antisemitism and incidents of Islamophobia that have followed in this country in its wake, has been devastating on all of us, especially those whose personal identity is very much connected to Israel and Gaza.

Jewish schools, synagogues and community centres here remain on serious high alert as the threat of attack is real and there is a growing fear both within and outside the Jewish community, as to where all this might lead.

Yet, despite the despair, Chanukah lights have appeared all over, including our own UCL campus. It has brought people together of all religions and no religion, in prayer and hope for restoration, renewal, and lasting peace – ideas embodied within this central blessing. Here, in the picture, another event with political leaders (cross party) was held in parliament in Westminster Hall organised by Lord John Mann – the UK government’s independent advisor on antisemitism.

The Centre for Holocaust Education is ever committed to its work in Holocaust education and in addressing antisemitism, today. In fact, my colleague Dr Eleni Karayianni and I have been conducting pioneering research and teacher training to address antisemitism in one Multi Academy Trust in the north of England. We have been working directly with Lord John Mann in helping schools become better able to recognise, monitor and counter antisemitism and build preventative measures through policies, procedures, and curriculum.

This in turn, we hope, will enable schools to use the same model to tackle other forms of racism that are present in society as clearly antisemitism is not the only form of hate which is on the rise.
With the hopeful message of Chanukah in mind, from all of us at the Centre for Holocaust Education, we wish you a peaceful, festive period.

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