Chanukah, it turns out, is a favorite with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland. He joined Chabad-Lubavitch of Strasbourg, France, led by Rabbis Shimon and Mendel Samama, at the lighting of a thirty-foot menorah at the center of the Place de Bordeaux.
“Chanukah is my personal holiday, the message is to share the light and religious freedom and this is one of our main purposes at the Council of Europe, to share tolerance and to be understanding of others,” Jagland, who lit the shamash the menorah’s assistant candle, told a crowd of some 800 who came to celebrate.
The Secretary General takes a leading role in the Human Rights, democracy and state of law in Europe, and has defended religious freedom and Jewish observance at a time when many European countries are challenging Jewish ritual observances such as circumcision and schechita—or kosher animal slaughter.
Jagland is, also the president of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, wished the people a “Chanukah Sameach!”