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Jewish community unites to call for hostages release

More than 1,000 people from across Hertfordshire and London joined together to call for the immediate return of the 134 hostages who remain in Hamas captivity.

The ‘Israel in our Herts’ event spanned the entire Jewish community, and beyond, with speakers including Progressive Judaism representative Rabbi Gershon Silins, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations Sir Ephraim Mirvis, Board of Deputies CEO Michael Wegier and Reverend Hayley Ace, the Co-Founder of Christian Action Against Antisemitism.

Rabbi Gershon Silins speaking
Rabbi Gershon Silins speaking

Rabbi Gershon of The Liberal Synagogue Elstree said: “We gathered together as a group from all parts of the Jewish community, and beyond, to let the world know that the Israeli hostages are ours as well – and to let Israel know that they are not alone… we are with them.”

A moving moment came when the daughter of 83-year-old hostage Oded Lifschitz called for a deal to return them all saying “we don’t have time left”.

Sharon Lipchitz described how her parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Nir Oz and peace activists who regularly transported patients from Gaza to receive medical treatment in hospitals across Israel. They were taken hostage on 7 October and although her mother Yocheved was later released, her elderly father is still being held by Hamas.

Sharon moved the crowd to tears as she read the names of the hostages from her parent’s kibbutz including the Bibas family – whose son Kfir who celebrated his first birthday in captivity alongside his four-year-old brother, Ariel.

Two boys hold a banner calling for the release of the hostages
Two boys hold a banner calling for the release of the hostages

Josh Moont, one of the organisers of the event, commented: “It was so important to bring together people from across the many Jewish communities as well as our Christian friends and those of all faiths and no faith, to show our unwavering support for Israel and to not let the world forget about the plight of the 134 hostages who remain in captivity.

“We hope and pray for a speedy end to the war, peace for all peoples and the immediate return of the hostages to their families.”

A true cross-communal gathering, the day was supported by the Movement for Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism, United Synagogue, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Israeli Embassy, StandWithUs, Christian Action Against Antisemitism, CAAA, UJS and Hertfordshire Jewish Forum.

Organisers have been holding events in Hertfordshire since 13 October 2023 and gather each week in Borehamwood to hold a vigil for the hostages.

  • Pictures by E Jacobs Photography
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