Despite Menachem Mendel Levy being convicted five years ago, the Menorah he built and donated is still used
Organisations responsible for hosting the annual Chanukah in the Square celebration have again been urged not to use a giant Menorah at the ceremony which was built and donated by a man subsequently convicted of sexual abuse.
The Jewish Leadership Council and Chabad Lubavitch UK have both been approached regarding the continuing use of the Menorah, which was donated by Menachem Mendel Levy.
In 2013, Levy was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16. In 2015, the organisations agreed to remove a plaque from the giant Menorah which honoured its contributor, but it has nonetheless still continued to be used at the candle lighting events in December at Trafalgar Square, which thousands of UK Jews, including many children, attend.
Yehudis Goldsobel, director of the Migdal Emunah sexual abuse support service, testified against Levy at his trial five years ago. She told the JC that “continuing to use this menorah donated by a convicted sex offender is giving the wrong message. Why not use the opportunity of adding light into the world to make a profound statement in support of the hundreds of victims of abuse in our community”.
Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the JLC, said:
“We have received correspondence relating to the future use of the Menorah. We are taking the issues raised very seriously. We are currently exploring all the options available. We intend to present our proposed plan of action, as soon as we have agreed it, to the complainant directly, rather than debate them publicly. We recognise the need to resolve this matter and hope to be able to do so in the near future.”
Chabad Lubavitch said it seconded Mr Johnson’s comments.
This is not the only way in which a donation from Mr Levy has been honoured by the community.
Late last year, Mr Levy organised a celebration for the completion of a Sefer Torah which he had commissioned and offered to loan to a Golders Green Lubavitch synagogue. Over a thousand people attended the celebration, including a number of rabbis. Only subsequently was the loan offer rejected, when the donation and its public dedication were criticised.
At the time Ms Goldsobel said: “A Sefer Torah dedication is a lovely thing, but how can a community of people ignore the fact that the person donating it is a convicted sex offender? Does this not somehow tarnish this mitzvah? I would think so.”