Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ban on candles 'has cost seaside town £100K' as Hasidic Jews go elsewhere 

For 20 years, more than a thousand Hasidic Jews have taken their summer break in the seaside resort of Aberystwyth, where they rented student village accommodation for two weeks.

But Aberystwyth University said this year that lit candles were banned in the houses on health and safety grounds following "more than one incident" involving the group.

As lighting candles is part of the weekly Shabbat tradition in the Jewish religion, most of the holidaymakers are now taking their break at other destinations with university accommodation.

Myer Rothfeld, a senior member of the Hasidic community, told the Cambrian News: "The people of this area are very respectful and we hold them in great esteem and love coming here.

"We've tried everything possible to get round it, offering to supply our own fire insurance, to use lanterns or even to put the candles on sand, but they keep saying 'no'.

"It's once a week for two hours and we've had one incident in 20 years, while the fire service are called out hundreds of times each year to halls for incidents or false alarms.

"The university and the town will have lost out on over £100,000 from us not being able to come now."

The university has said that the use of candles and naked flames in all its residences is prohibited, a rule that is set out in the terms and conditions all visitors must sign and abide to during their stay.

A spokesman said: "The university maintains its position that we would be delighted to welcome the Orthodox Jewish community to Aberystwyth for their holiday visit.

"Alternative options continue to be considered by both parties in a productive and positive manner."


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