The Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) hosted its first Hanukkah celebration at Headingley Stadium bringing people from different cultures and backgrounds together to celebrate, yesterday (Thursday, 14 December, 2023).
It was a historic occasion, believed to be the first time a county cricket club has ever hosted a Hanukkah celebration for the community.
To celebrate the festival of light and joy, YCCC welcomed around 100 guests – including a number of community groups, members of Yorkshire’s professional squad, religious leaders from multiple faiths, and staff from across the Yorkshire Cricket Family.
The special evening saw guests invited to observe the multi faith lighting of the Hanukkah Menorah – led by Rabbi Albert Chait MBE, alongside other faith and community leaders, and representatives from YCCC, while the guests sang Hanukkah songs.
Guests also enjoyed welcome speeches from YCCC Board member Richard Levin and Club Chair Harry Chathli and had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Hanukkah food including donuts and latkes.
Rabbi Albert Chait said: “To be here at the home of Yorkshire Cricket and to bring the Jewish community, the cricket community and the wider community, together for the Hanukkah lighting for us – the Jewish community – is one of the proudest triumphs because it means a sport, which is for all faiths, has embraced our community and at a time where the Jewish community is feeling a great sense of vulnerability we see them as our great friends at Yorkshire Cricket.
“To light the candles in the stadium this evening and to hear the echo of the traditional Jewish songs – it was a very emotional moment. I could see emotion on the faces of those who were present.
“A huge thank you to Yorkshire Cricket for hosting a Hanukkah celebration for the first time ever at a cricket stadium. I genuinely believe that a greater sense of inter faith and inter community work is just understanding the traditions and beliefs and the practices of different communities.
“Tonight, we were able to share the traditions of the Jewish community with the wider community and we also endeavour as the Jewish community to learn about other people’s communities – so tonight it’s like being forged together from all corners of society and bringing people together through the medium of something very happy and very peaceful. The lighting of the candles was very pure, and we feel that sense of purity here this evening.”
Stephen Vaughan, Chief Executive of YCCC, said: “This evening was a chance for the Yorkshire Family to congratulate and celebrate not only their club, but also the Jewish members of the community.
“We were delighted to welcome so many people from across communities within Yorkshire to celebrate our first Hanukkah celebration event. The festival of Hanukkah is a celebration of light and joy and this event was for everyone to enjoy and celebrate the Jewish community.
“Thank all our guests for making this an incredible evening. To have had people from such a wide range of backgrounds coming together really demonstrates the power of this Club and the wider sport to unify and reflect the rich and diverse cultures in Yorkshire.
“The Yorkshire Cricket Family is pleased to be able to connect people from different backgrounds across the region. The Yorkshire Cricket Family has had the opportunity to attend annual events including celebrating Eid, Diwali and Christmas – it’s great to connect and celebrate the diverse community that we represent.”
Richard Levin, YCCC Board Member and organiser of the Hanukkah celebration, added: “To be able to celebrate Chanukah with our Jewish friends is important to us, as part of our commitment to removing all forms of discrimination from our game.
“Diversity, inclusion and belonging is key to the Yorkshire Cricket Family and we also continue to support key religious dates such as this, to help raise awareness of belief in cricket.
“We are committed to continuing the celebration of all events that are of significance to our communities. We look forward to many other celebrations of this nature.”