Candle risk blocks Hassidic Jews’ return to Aberystywth

The candles are lit on a Friday night to usher in Shabbat – the Jewish day of rest

The candles are lit on a Friday night to usher in Shabbat – the Jewish day of rest

AN ANNUAL visit to Aberystwyth by up to 1,000 Hassidic Jews has been cancelled after Aberystwyth University refused to relax their ban on candles in halls.

The group, consisting of Jewish families, have made the visit every years for the last 20 years. Since Pentre Jane Morgan opened, they have rented out up to 120 of the houses, and before they have stayed in Cwrt Mawr.

However, the University have blocked this year’s visit, after “more than one” incident occurred involving lit candles during last year’s visit.

Mrs Brander, a member of the group, is quoted by sources as saying: “We were told about this condition but, at the time, did not think it a serious threat to our visit. But, ultimately, there was no real decision for us – our religion requires the lighting of candles on a Friday evening,”

“We come to Aberystwyth for a holiday. It is a summer home to us, and we all love it – good air, sea, and wonderful views. We are very disappointed and upset by the University’s decision.”

A University spokesperson said that “Aberystwyth University has considered the request for permission to use candles at great length.”

“In reaching its decision not to allow candles to be lit in rooms the University has taken legal and health and safety advice, has been in dialogue with the Fire Service, and has undertaken its own risk assessment based on the local context and previous incidents.”

The decision was reportedly made after multiple incidents last year which involved lit candles, despite the terms and conditions (which all visiting groups are required to sign and abide by during their stay) which strictly prohibits the use of candles and naked flames. This agreement also applies to students residing in University accommodation during term-time.

“They have been a feature in Aberystwyth for a long time attracting bemused looks from other tourists but a warm welcome from the locals. Once past their reserved nature they were more than happy to say how they enjoyed coming to Aber. As I told one of them last year, they were like swallows, turning up each summer.”

Ceredig Davis, local Councillor

During negotiations for the a proposed visit, the University was asked to remove the parts of the terms and conditions which referred to flames being lit in accommodation and a suggestion was made by the group that covered flames might be more acceptable to the University. The group reportedly found a holder to make each candle safer and offered to discuss it with the Fire Brigade, but, according to Mrs Brander, the University were “not interested”.

However, the decision to refuse permission was upheld, in the interest of the safety of those staying in the University’s accommodation, and to protect the University’s property and its staff.

The University has stated that it would be “delighted to welcome the group back” as long as they are able to comply with the University’s standard terms and conditions.