Rabbi Yossi and Rivka Posen, shluchim in Epping, England, were in awe at the reception of their assorted events across Chanukah, catering for every demographic of the Jewish population, local and beyond.
In Epping, England, the warmth of the Chanukah candles was magnified by the glow of a growing and vibrant community.
Rabbi Yossi and Rivka Posen, co-directors of Chabad of Epping, were in awe at the reception of their assorted events across Chanukah, catering for every demographic of the Jewish population, local and beyond. Located on the edge of the famous Epping Forest, Epping is outside of the outer-London suburbs and is popular with Londoners looking for a cleaner and greener place to live.
The festivities took off with a grand Chanukah party in the newly developed District Council’s office hall. It was the building’s inaugural event where the Council worked tirelessly to ensure that the large community would have the facilities it needed. With 400-people in attendance, there was something for everyone including a falafel street-food bar, a dance-along disco, a dazzling Klezmer band and a glitter bar.
A public Menorah lighting followed – equally remarkable was the sight of a march of party-goers descending from the party to the lighting. The very English-idyllic Epping Main Street was alight with the rolling feet of excited Jewish families, waving neon glow sticks, giving out an excited festive aura.
The following week was jam packed with events, perhaps notable were the three uniquely styled parties at the Chabad House. The first was for the local budding Israeli community, offering a taste of Israel in Epping. As one of the participants said “for those few hours we felt like we were back at home in Israel, celebrating the Chag.”
Another gave an opportunity for young men from frum inner-London communities to journey into the rural delights of Epping for an evening, welcomed with familiar niggunim and l’chaims.
Thirdly, the children of the rapidly growing Hebrew-School arrived for their own party. Large smiles beamed as their eyes were met with the allure and thrill of playing optical illusion games and the chance to make QR-coded menorah mats.
A pioneering occasion in Epping was when an entire group of American bochurim took to the streets. With daily knocks on the doors the bochurim’s surprise arrivals treated families with a warm and authentic Chanukah experience, shared in the comfort of their own homes.
Chanukah peaked with the first ever public Menorah Lighting in the nearby diverse town of Harlow. Prior to Chanukah, dozens of schools were visited by Rabbi Posen where thousands of children learnt up-close about Judaism and Chanukah.
Working in conjunction with local Councillors, over 3,000-children entered a Menorah-design competition where the winner had his design recreated as one of the public menorahs. At the lighting event, awards were presented to the competition winner and his school by Member of Parliament, Robert Halfon.
With planning in advanced stages for the year ahead, when asked about the successful Chanukah events in Epping, Rabbi Yossi & Rivka Posen commented that ‘the hundreds of smiles of local families, the warmth and communal feel were immeasurable and we can’t wait to keep creating those smiles plus many more.’