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Abbey to host first Advent/Hanukkah celebration

Monday, 26th November 2007

Abbey to host first Advent/Hanukkah celebration

In a major first for Jewish/Christian relations in the UK, Westminster Abbey and the Council of Christians and Jews will celebrate two major festivals together this year.

The Abbey will host a joint celebration of the start of the Christian festival of Advent together with the beginning of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.

Canon Robert Reiss of Westminster Abbey said:

Hanukkah and Advent occur at the same time of the year and both involve the lighting of candles. Westminster Abbey is very happy to respond to a suggestion from the Council for Christians and Jews that this joint event should take place, which will give an opportunity of representatives from both faiths to learn and understand of one another’s practices and, it is hoped, to share in the celebration of the light that flows from God.

David Gifford, chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews said:

We are thrilled that this historic occasion is going to take place in this 65th anniversary year of the CCJ. The uniqueness of having two Jewish cantors singing Hebrew blessings at the Abbey will be a particularly significant moment in Jewish/Christian relations in the UK.

The joint celebration of Advent and Hanukkah will take place in Westminster Abbey at 6.30pm on Sunday 2nd December 2007. No tickets are required.

Advent is a holy season of the Christian church, the period of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ. It is the beginning of the Western Christian year and begins on Advent Sunday.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev. It celebrates the rekindling of the Temple menorah at the time of the Maccabbee rebellion. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday – one on the first night, two on the second and so on.

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