How and Where to Celebrate Hanukkah in London
Hanukkah, or Hanukkah, begins at sunset tonight, December 18, and lasts eight nights through December 26. The holiday commemorates the advance of a small but determined army known as the Maccabees, the rededication of a Jewish synagogue decimated by the Greek-Syrian army, and the oil found under the rubble that just ended enough to rekindle the eternal flame of the synagogue; The oil serves as a metaphor for resilience and hope.
In all respects, Hanukkah is considered a minor holiday within the Jewish faith. Thing is, Hanukkah has the best hype man there could be: Christmas. Its proximity has helped raise public awareness of Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, and all of the oil-wrapped food traditionally prepared to celebrate. It’s not a bad thing, really.
For anyone wanting to enjoy this celebration of hope, resilience and fried foods, here’s what’s happening across London this week.
The queen of modern Jewish sourdough is back again to celebrate the Festival of Lights with her fermented sufganiyot (aka stuffed donuts). Filled with homemade raspberry jam or chocolate creméux, these treats are available for almost every eight crazy nights. Since these only take place about once a year, pre-ordering via the website is strongly recommended. Pick up your order at the flagship shop in East Finchley or at the bakery’s second and more spacious location at 66 Georges Road near Holloway tube station. Owner Michelle Eshkeri says customers should also keep an eye on the community events currently being developed at the new location for next year.
Available again due to high demand! Stop by Karma Bread at their location in Brent Cross or Hampstead Heath to pick up a box of special edition Hanukkah donuts. Flavors include tahini honey halva, custard, cinnamon, chocolate brownie, and regular-size or jam-filled donuts. Preorder through their website. Come for the donuts, but don’t forget to grab an order of Stollen Challah, Mince Pie Donuts, or other daily offerings from the bakery.
Starting today and throughout the holiday at 4pm, join owner Tami Isaacs Pearce. at the Hampstead Heath location at 13 South End Road, for the nighttime illumination of the menorah made from Karma’s signature challah bread; It’s a tradition that’s been going on for eight years and is spearheaded by Isaacs Pearce’s father. “It’s a ritual that’s so important to me; it is my greatest joy! Everyone is welcome to share the light and sense of community,” he says.
JW3 Jewish Community Center
JW3 on Finchley Road, north London, is hosting a series of Hanukkah-related events starting today with Hanukkah Funakah, a family event filled with singing, Hanukkah cookie decorating, crafts, donuts and themed ‘Maccabeat dance parties’. Tickets cost £5 for adults, £9 for children and are free for children under 2 years old.
Return later in the week to attend a range of events, including an interfaith celebration with Nisa-Nashim, a national network that specializes in bringing women of the Jewish and Islamic faiths together. This event starts on December 21st at 6:30pm and includes candle lighting, food and story sharing. Tickets for all events are available through the website.
Honey & Spice Deli
Founders Sarit and Itamar have given Eater an inside look at their upcoming plans for Hanukkah. Stop by the Honey & Spice Deli at 52 Warren Street to purchase a specially made Hanukkah donut or five: Each doughy fried ball of goodness is filled with bergamot curd and finished with a bergamot sugar-roll. While you’re there, load up on other treats too, like the signature babka or moussaka, and save yourself a bit of pre-Christmas cooking in the run-up to Christmas. Follow them on Instagram to keep your eyes peeled for the first donut drop sighting. Only available in store.
tongue & chest
Let’s face it, who doesn’t need a two-pound latke pick-me-up every now and then, especially this time of year. With three locations in central London and on the menu all year round, Tongue & Brisket comes highly recommended for all your fried potato snacks. Each latke is pre-made from shredded potatoes and then fried to order to deliver the perfect crunchy, slightly salty deep-fried snack you didn’t know you needed. Given the holiday’s devotion to all things oil, this is one of the easiest recommendations there can be. Founded by Bambos Georgiou of B&K Salt Beef Bar, he has spent his career building his reputation, including founding the legendary Brass Rail at Selfridges. The man doesn’t play around. Keep it cheap and fun or treat yourself to some of their house-cured salt beef or house-made chopped liver to take home.
Menorah Illumination @ Islington
The second largest public menorah lighting is tonight, December 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to the Chabad Islington website. It’s free and open to the public. Enjoy a latke or donut and listen to the live klezmer band as the community celebrates the Jewish holiday by lighting the menorah. Follow the crowds and smells of freshly fried potato latkes, an Ashkenazi holiday tradition, to Islington Green N1 8DU, where the celebrations take place. Then spin a Dreidel to play Gelt (money) and enjoy a Sufganiyot, a Sephardic Hanukkah tradition, or make your own candle with instruction from the Jewish Museum before heading home. An action-packed community event that welcomes all faiths and ages.
Jewish Museum London
Families looking for a fun activity to welcome the Festival of Lights can visit the London Jewish Museum at Raymond Burton House in Camden for an afternoon of activities for all ages. Get your dreidel-twisting, donut-making fingers ready to take part in the hands-on workshops guaranteed to put a stop to all the whining and squawking, at least temporarily. All activities have limited places and are conducted on a first come, first served basis. Visit their website for more information.